UFC 244: Darren Till Felt ‘Terrified’ Before Fight with Kelvin Gastelum

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Following UFC 244, Darren Till revealed how he had to overcome a lack of desire to compete, but is now back and ready to take over the middleweight division

New York, NY — Darren Till is not one to make excuses, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t looking for one Saturday.

While waiting backstage for his bout against fourth ranked middleweight Kelvin Gastelum, Till dealt with the pre-fight jitters he normally deals with, except this time it was at another level.

“I’ll tell ya I was trying to fake an injury before walking out,” said Till, at his post-fight media availability from Madison Square Garden. “I just simply didn’t want to get in there and these are things fighters simply don’t talk about. But you know me, I’m honest, and now I’m here—confidence is back, f*ck all these middleweights. I’m coming for everything.”

The 26-year-old went on to elaborate about his mental struggles before the contest.

“Every fight no matter what any fighter will tell you, they are scared. If they say they are not, it’s a blatant lie. But this fight I wasn’t scared, I was terrified. I wasn’t shaking but I didn’t want to go. The magnitude of the event and everything I was doubting and thinking of ways to get out of the fight. This was only today and I’m just so scared. Then I was like come on pull yourself together and let’s go win this fight as planned and you’re not going to let him touch you. I know fighters in the past have been criticized but I don’t care that’s where I was at today.”

The Liverpool, England native went on to win via split decision (27–30, 29–28, 30–27) in a closely contested fight that even the judges had a tough time scoring.

As for what’s next, the former welterweight contender revealed a fight he’s always been dreaming of by the banks of the River Mersey.

“I don’t know but I should’ve said this on the mic really,” Till told to reporters. “Years ago Israel Adesanya before I was sort of at the top—before I was fighting Tyron Woodley, he identified as the fight that was going to happen between me and him. I want that fight for legacy. I’ve spoke about Anfield—my hometown and Liverpool football club. That’s a legacy fight for me. Forget the belt, it’s the fight between me and him that matters and that’s what it’s going to be.

“I get goosebumps thinking about it,” Till added.

Till shared that there won’t be any ill will between his ideal future opponent and there isn’t any between one half of Saturday’s main event, with whom he met with this past March.

“We always chat on the Instagram messages. Send memes and all that,” said Till, on the friendship between him and Adesanya. “He’s a cool guy. It’s the same thing about what I said about Masvidal. 100 percent of me is happy for him about what he is doing. A few people have said ‘oh you’re not angry about what he’s doing and stuff?’ When he fought me it wasn’t Till vs Masvidal, it was the Darren Till show in London—that’s what it was and he took that there from me. The only thing now for me is to be here now. Me and Israel are good but we’re going to fight and we’re going to take each other out. Maybe one day fight against Masvidal again and get that big rematch.

“He just told me that he’ll move up to middleweight, I’m a scary middleweight right now, I’m not cutting no weight,” Till concluded.

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