Darren Till will not get a warmup in his middleweight debut. Instead, the long-time welterweight has been booked to battle the middleweight division’s fourth-ranked fighter, Kelvin Gastelum, at UFC 244 in New York.
This booking comes as a bit of a surprise, given that Till is riding back-to-back stoppage losses, and UFC President Dana White recently admitted that the promotion might have pushed the young striker along too quickly.
“I think after the win over Cowboy, I pushed him a little soon. It happens,” White told ESPN. “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.”
Matching Darren Till up with one of the world’s best middleweights in his divisional debut seems like a contradiction to this comment, but White has not regrets about making the matchup.
He responded to the widespread criticism surrounding this Till vs. Gastelum booking after the final episode of Contender Series on Tuesday night.
“That’s the fight [Till] wants,” White said, claiming that he and the UFC matchmakers gave Till the chance to take a less dangerous fight (video via MMA Fighting).
“We went to him and said ‘are you sure this is the fight you want?’ [You’re] moving up, you’re sure that Gastelum’s the [right fight]?’ He said ‘that’s the fight I want.’ So I love it,” White added.
How do you think Darren Till will do in his middleweight debut opposite Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/28/2019.