The co-main at UFC 244 see’s Darren Till make his long anticipated middleweight debut, facing the legend killer Kelvin Gastelum. Due to the credibility of both fighters, it would come as no surprise to see the winner move to within touching distance of a title shot. To add to the excitement, both fighters are coming off a loss meaning they’ve both got nothing to lose and everything to gain. This fight has fight of the night written all over it.
Before making the prediction, we need to look at the main factors that go into deciding the winner…
Factor #1 – The Move Up
The infamous weight cuts to welterweight are over for Till. Unlike his previous brutal weight cuts, this fight see’s Till cut a normal amount of weight for once. The severity of his previous weight cuts must have had a negative impact on some of his performances. UFC Liverpool saw the Gorilla go temporarily blind due to the dehydration, and then to fight just a day later is plain insanity. He should come into this bout feeling better than ever, this should give Till a huge mental boost which he’s in desperate need of considering the devastating back to back losses in these last few months.
However on the flip side, alot of Till’s game revolves around bullying his welterweight opponent with his extra size and power. This time around, he will still have the height advantage but there are few fighters that can match the elite power and speed in Gastelum hands and Till is not one of them. This could be a huge problem for Till, he didn’t fair well with Woodley’s power never mind an elite middleweight.
Factor #2 – The Striking Exchanges
The predictability of Till’s strikes has worked against him in his last two outings. It’s no secret as to what he’s trying to do, looking for any opportunity for that stiff left hand he possesses. Fighters are now starting to wisen up, constantly circling away from it. Even more predictable is his defence, moving back with his head held high. Till is in desperate need of filling some holes in his game, especially against such a deadly striker this time around.
As for Gastelum, hes moving from strength to strength. Despite losing his last fight, he showed a lot of improvement as well as a lot more diversity in his strikes. He ventured away from his traditional one-two he normally relies on, instead favouring some great combos which resulted in a lot of success throughout the fight. Gastelum will be looking to expose Till’s defence in the same manner as Masvidal except he is even quicker with more power. If Till doesn’t fix up his defence, this could be a very short fight and yet another setback for him.
This looks like a nightmare match up for Till, an exceptional boxer vs a fighter there to be hit. Till has been thrown into the deep end of a killer middleweight division perhaps too soon. This fight all depends on how Till can defend against Gastelum’s boxing and if were going off what we’ve seen in the last few months, i expect this to end in Gastelums favour by KO.