We are just a few days away from UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Till, where two welterweights at different stages of their career, will lock horns at The Ergo Arena in Gdańsk, Poland. Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, the number six ranked welterweight in the world, is set to take on Darren Till, who according to Fight Matrix, is ranked at number 55.
Yes, you read that correctly. A massive divide between the two fighters, who just so happen to be competing in one of the sport’s most deepest divisions.
For Cerrone, it appears to be a crossroads fight to determine where he currently stands in his career. Many have labelled him as the welterweight litmus test for any fighter who wants to get anywhere close to being nominated as a contender.
“Some people say Cowboy is the gatekeeper. Well then can you get past the gate?” stated Cerrone, at today’s media day for the event. It is a challenge an obstacle his opponent is fully aware of, but one he believes he can definitely handle.
“I’m still a fan of Cowboy. He’s everything you want from a fighter, that’s never going to change.” stated Till. “I look up to him and I respect him but, come fight night, I have to put all that to one side and I’ll have to put my fist in his face. It’ll be no different to any other opponent”.
All the pressure will be on Cerrone in this fight, as to date, any mention of ‘Darren Till’ and many within the MMA bubble scratch their heads, squint their eyes, and say ‘Who’? Heck, even the MMA veteran has been stating he has no idea who is opponent is, something that has rubbed Till the wrong way.
“It was no disrespect from me, I wasn’t trying to prod at the kid, I just didn’t know who Darren Till was. He has like three fights. He’s a new up and comer. This will be the biggest moment of his life. Will five rounds be too much for him? He went from the undercard to the big card. Hey man, welcome to the big leagues.”
This will actually be Till’s fifth fight, with the Liverpool native making it clear, the world will know his name after Saturday’s tussle. “There’s going to be so many scousers here on Saturday that you don’t even understand!”, referring to the naysayers. “After Cowboy, I’m just going to put everyone in the welterweight division on notice.”
A bold statement by the man nicknamed “The Gorilla”, who strangely enough (well at least to yours truly) is not that much of an underdog, as common perception may have it. As it stands right now, Till is a +130 dog, with Cerrone only a -150 favourite.
Has the public given up on the greatness that is Donald Cerrone, the only fighter in UFC history to be awarded bonuses in each category: Fight (3X) Knockout (3X), Performance (5X) and Submission of the night (2X).
Is it because he is on the first two fight losing streak of his career? Is it the difference in age, with Cowboy at 34 and Till at 24? Is it because the MMA mileage has caught up with Cerrone? Perhaps all of these items have given credence to what many believe is a slide in Cowboy’s skill set while admiring the power Till brings to the octagon, namely is powerful left kick to the body and his monstrous elbows.
It’s wonderful matchup when you actually think about the potential ramifications: are we witnessing the decline of ‘Cowboy Cerrone’ and the rise of ‘The Gorilla’ or will the veteran keep the young buck in check.
There are many reasons to watch MMA in general, but one look at this fight and I’m glad we will get some answers to some burning questions since the bout was first announced a few months ago.
It’s almost ‘go time’ for Cowboy and Till and in just a few days, we will know what the MMA Gods have in store for us. A new contender, or an existing one who will keep himself relevant in a division stacked with talent.