Darren Till got back to his winning ways at UFC 244, with a successful debut at middleweight against former title challenger Kelvin Gastelum.
Ahead of UFC 244, the talk surrounding the card’s co-main event was about Darren Till’s delay in getting to New York City. Visa issues had reportedly held him back, and there was a question as to whether a late flight to the Big Apple might impact his weight cut.
Instead, it was opponent Kelvin Gastelum having a bit of a weight cut scandal, after it appeared he leaned on a coach while on the scale for the official weigh-in Friday morning. While the fight was allowed to move forward as scheduled, the NYSAC revealed they’d investigate the matter further.
The good news was, the fight was a go. Till (17-2-1) was coming off a pair of losses at welterweight, including a failed title bid. Making his debut at 185lbs, he was set to be welcomed by a former title challenger in Gastelum (15–4, 1NC), who last competed against Israel Adesanya for interim gold.
Gastelum shot forward immediately with pressure, and Till grabbed on to clinch. Till separated, landed a low kick, then was back in the clinch again. The two worked for position for a bit before Gastelum broke away after landing some knees to the body. Till landed a leg kick, followed by one by Gastelum. Till landed a 1-2, followed by another sharp leg kick. Till was the more active fighter in the first round, and he was chopping Gastelum’s leg up.
Gastelum’s corner called for more activity in the second round, and he came out guns blazing to open the round. However, Till remained calm, got out of danger and went back to kicking Gastelum’s legs out from under him. Gastelum was having trouble reaching him, and anytime he got close, he clinched Gastelum. Gastelum poked Till in the eye about halfway through the round, but Till didn’t take anytime off. Till continued to keep him on the outside, and land accurate shots whenever he threw them. His defense was on point through the first ten minutes, and Gastelum was having no success outside of his plodding leg kicks.
Gastelum opened with more leg kicks to start round three, Till caught one of them and landed a left hand. Kelvin shot in on Till with a great double leg, but couldn’t complete the takedown. Till landed a spinning elbow, and just barely got out of the way of a big Gastelum left hand. Gastelum threw a leg kick, and Till caught this one as well, he opted for the takedown and Gastelum had to quickly scramble to his feet. Till landed a beautiful knee that Kelvin just ate, then took some time to adjust his cup. Kelvin got the brief takedown, but Till quickly got back to his feet. Kelvin would land another takedown, and land a combination, but it looked like it was too little, too late.
Darren Till def. Kelvin Gastelum by Split Decision (30-27, 27-30, 29-28)