Darren Till vs. Yoel Romero: Does this Fight Really Make Sense?

Darren Till
Darren Till Credit: Marcus Rebelo/Cageside Press

Darren Till wants a quick path to the UFC middleweight title, but is Yoel Romero the right way to go?

At UFC 244, Darren Till staged an impressive comeback. The English fighter was on a career low two-fight losing streak, and had lost all momentum. The pressure to perform on him was insane, to say the least. As it was best put by him, “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.”

It’s one of the more honest statements any athlete has ever uttered. Till entered the fight after being written off as a hype train and on the top of that was facing a former (interim) title challenger, Kelvin Gastelum. The fight was a fun back and forth and saw Till walking out victorious. The win not only put Till in place as as one of the contenders in the middleweight division, but also helped him regain confidence. He proceeded to call out the strongest middleweight contender, Yoel Romero on an Instagram post.

Romero stands as one of the scariest fighters in MMA today. With a strong record of 13-4, which includes wins over the likes of Chris Weidman, Ronaldo Souza, Luke Rockhold among many others, Romero in a constant threat. Though on a two-fight losing streak at the present moment, Romero’s stock stands rock solid in the middleweight division given his consistent performances in past.

With his re-found confidence, Till believes he can be the next big thing in the middleweight division. He knows that defeating someone like Yoel Romero immediately makes him the front runner for the title. However, let’s take a step back and look at the larger picture. With Paulo Costa out for a long time given his injury, the only eligible fighters who can lay claim to a title shot are Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero. With Romero a bit doubtful given he’s coming off a loss.

So if Till does face Romero he locks horns against one of the strongest middleweights. If he wins, it’s huge but if he loses? Given the recent past it is proven that Romero might be scary, but he isn’t invincible. Elite middleweights can beat him — but it’s far from easy. Till would arguably be an underdog. A loss against Romero throws him way down the line. Besides, with Whittaker calling Till out, Till doesn’t really need to face Yoel.

Yet he wants to. Now for what it’s worth in terms of traditional match making, as a fight it does make sense. Till is coming of a huge win in Gastelum. He now needs a step-up and who better than a former title challenger coming off a loss to a rising contender. Both get to prove themselves in the match. But in a sense this pairing is high risk, low reward given there’s other options for Till in a weight class short on top contenders.