If there’s something Darren Till is not short of ahead of his fight at UFC Fight Night: Rotterdam, it’s confidence. The Liverpudlian defends his undefeated record against Serbian Bojan Veličković, but Till has greater things on his mind.
Till returned to the Octagon last May after a nineteen-month absence from the cage. With a rocky preparation, he beat Jessin Ayari, but the day before he was far over the welterweight limit: 176 lbs. “I always have a big weight cut. I’m a big welterweight with big legs, so it’s always a lot of weight I have to cut,” Till tells MMA Plus in Rotterdam.
“I didn’t have such a bad weigh cut last time, but my body wasn’t used to the big cut anymore due to the long time-off. Afterwards, I got a few messages about it, but it shouldn’t be a problem this time around. Now I’m back in the flow.”
Without any suffered injuries, Till mentioned Rotterdam immediately after his win as a possible destination for his next bout. Now that it has come to fruition, the 24-year-old Englishman is eager to show off his striking skills in the country that produced kickboxing legends like Ernesto Hoost, Semmy Schilt and Badr Hari, one of Till’s favorite fighters of all-time.
“Rotterdam was on my list. Dutch kickboxing has always been one of three best striking countries in the world and they’ve always had amazing fighters. When the crowd sees me on Saturday night, a lot of people might not know me, but afterwards they will definitely will”, Till says, who thinks he found a suitable opponent in Veličković to steal the show.
“Bojan comes to strike, he won’t lay down or hug me for fifteen minutes. He comes to fight, and I welcome that with open arms. 99 percent of the fans wanna see blood, they wanna see punches, kicks, doesn’t matter if it’s on the ground or standing. That is exactly what I produce, so why wouldn’t they wanna see me?“
If you talk to Till, it’s hard not to notice he’s very confident in himself and his abilities. Without stuttering, he’ll tell you that he’s the greatest and he won’t accept contradiction, although he only has fifteen MMA bouts on his record. But for Till, it’s not only a mindset he applies to fighting, but to life in general.
“I’ve always believed in myself and always did things a hundred percent. I think of myself as a superhuman without any problems. I’m just so confident in myself. Through life in everything I’ve done, I always believed I was the best at it. It’s all natural to me,” Till says.
“When I was a kid and started sparring all the way up to my first fight, I started saying to myself ‘I am the greatest’, just like Muhammad Ali, the greatest fighter ever. That’s the reason I am the best, the greatest, the king.
“I look at fighters and see they have to convince themselves that they are good or the best. They train their mental side with therapists. I don’t need a therapist or something telling me I’m the best, I can tell myself that.”
“Who’s gonna tell me I’m not the greatest and that I shouldn’t say that because I’m getting too big for myself? I’m telling myself I am the greatest because I believe I am the greatest. Is that a crime?”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Liverpudlian already picked who he wants to fight next with a win and that there’s no doubt in his mind it’s a match MMA fans want to see.
“There’s some fighters that think they are the best strikers, like Santiago Ponzinibbio. He’s beaten a few good guys and he’s is in the top ten right now. He believes he’s the best striker, but he’s not. That’s me. If he comes up against me, he won’t lay a glove on me. I’m just a level above him.
“I’ll demolish Bojan and then Santiago is on my list. Sean Shelby needs to make it happen. Put the two supposedly best strikers in the division against each other to see who comes up on top. It’s good business and a exciting fight. The path is already made.”