Darren Till is 10 days away from crossing the first hurdle of his UFC 228 title challenge against Tyron Woodley, and next Friday morning’s weigh-ins can’t come soon enough.
A behemoth welterweight, Till has badly missed weight twice in the UFC, first tipping the scales at 176 pounds in 2017 ahead of UFC Stockholm, then missing his mark by weighing 174 pounds for his recent decision win over Stephen Thompson in May. Despite that, the UFC awarded the undefeated 25-year-old a Sept. 8 title shot against Woodley at UFC 228.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, Till declined to answer exactly where his current weight was sitting, but promised that he would make the 170-pound welterweight limit required of championship fights. Regardless, it was clear that the process to get down to 170 pounds — and the omnipresent questions in his life about his weight — were beginning to drain on him ahead of the biggest opportunity of his career.
“It’s shit. It’s shit. It’s f*cking, I hate cutting weight, I hate making weight, I hate dieting,” Till said. “I’m gonna make this weight, so I can’t wait to [put up my middle fingers] when I step on them scales. I’m just, I’m in that moment now where I just, I don’t want to train anymore, I don’t want to eat good anymore. I just wish I had a hamburger in front of me, but it’s all sacrifices and I made a mistake last time. I just can’t wait to say f*ck you to everyone who just keeps babbling on about weight and, ‘He didn’t make weight, f*ck Till.’ F*ck them.”
Till (17-0-1) has switched things up for UFC 228, traveling out to Las Vegas from his native Liverpool early to spend the past several weeks preparing with his Team Kaobon teammates and coaches at the UFC Performance Institute.
Till indicated that the facilities in Las Vegas have been helpful for his weight cut and his recovery, but admitted that he was “starting to get sick” of the process and the isolated nature of his day-to-day. His open workout was at times listless, and Till acknowledged afterward that he is at the point of just counting down the days.
“I’m just, this camp, as much as it’s been short, it’s been tough on me,” Till admitted. “So I think just these next few days, I’m just in a bit of a mood. Because as I said, back home, I get to the gym, I do my work, what needs to be done, and I leave the gym and I don’t see anyone until late in the night. Now it’s sorta like, I feel like the cameras are always on me, I feel like there’s people always just nagging me here, there, everywhere. And it is part and parcel. If someone brought me a McDonald’s right now I’d cheer right up, but it’s what it is.
“I’m not a moody person, I’ve just woke up in one of them moods. I’m tired. I just want the fight to be here. I’ve done all of my work. I’m ready for five rounds, I’m ready for one round. I’m fit. I’ve really put all of my effort into training, into dieting, into being the best me. So I’m just having a few off days.”
Likely because of the concerns around Till’s weight, the UFC has tapped fellow welterweight contender Kamaru Usman as an official back-up for UFC 228’s main event in the event that something goes awry.
Woodley told ESPN on Monday that he intends to fight Till and not Usman at UFC 228, regardless of whether Till makes weight. But either way, it’s all background noise for Till. He admitted that a move to 185 pounds is in his very near future, perhaps after he defeats Woodley then defends the 170-pound title once, but until then he is simply hungry to prove his critics wrong and show that he can make championship weight at welterweight responsibly.
“To be honest, right, I don’t really care,” Till said of Usman’s presence. “I feel like I’m the only fighter who’s ever missed weight in the UFC, to be totally honest. I feel like anyone, when we talk about weight now, it’s Darren Till, Darren Till, all of this. I missed weight — people just need to get off it.
“If Usman’s there and ready, and by some chance I miss weight entirely — Tyron said he wasn’t going to fight him, I saw, but it is what it is. They’ve got their back-up. Usman, they’ve told him, he’s doing what he’s told, so I’m just not arsed. I’m just focused on Friday, making 170, and then Saturday, going in and absolutely f*cking destroying Tyron Woodley. That’s all I’m focused on right now.”