When it comes to hindsight, even UFC president Dana White can take a look back on decision making with a different lens.
With the sport of mixed martial arts evolving at such a frenetic pace, finding MMA’a next big star has become a daunting task. One of the fighters who garnered a lot of attention after a huge win in a headline position was welterweight Darren Till. It seemed like “The Gorilla” would be off to the races following his first round finish of Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 118 in October 2017, which was followed by a unanimous decision win over, then, top contender Stephen Thompson seven months later.
After back-to-back losses to Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal, both by finishes, White feels that with hindsight being what it is, he may have pushed Darren Till too quickly.
“I think after the win over Cowboy, I pushed him a little soon. It happens,” White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto in an interview Monday evening. “Sometimes when a guy gets that much steam behind them, pump the brakes a little here, and let him get back and work on the things he needs to work on.
“For some people (with a win over a guy like Cerrone), it’s the perfect time. For others, it’s too soon. That weight division is nasty. It’s like Murderer’s Row in that top-8.
Following the win over Thompson in his hometown of Liverpool, England, Till got the opportunity to fight for the UFC welterweight title against the now former champion Woodley in the main event of UFC 228 last September. After a one-sided first round for Woodley, he would go on to finish the challenger — submitting Till via D’arce choke with a little less than a minute left in the round.
Darren Till, looking to jump back into the title picture, would take on Masvidal in the headliner of March’s UFC on ESPN+ 5 event in London. The 26-year-old dropped Masvidal early in the fight, before getting brutally knocked out in the second round, leading to the first multiple fight losing streak of Till’s career.
Till has suffered a couple of setbacks but the talent and athleticism is clearly there. White is certainly not ready to close the book on Darren Till and what he can do in the UFC; whether that path remains in the welterweight division, or a jump up to 185.
“He’s gonna be around,” White said. “We’ll give him some time, look for an opponent and see what’s next for him.”
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/25/2019.