Call me crazy, but I think Tyron Woodley finally had his breakout star moment. Yes, it was his fifth championship title fight, but fans have long forgotten about Woodley’s first-round TKO of the future Hall of Fame “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. Woodley can knock out just about any welterweight fighter but after two fights with martial arts specialist that were boring to watch (for some). The fans of UFC got a treat, on September 8th, 2018 Darren Till earned his chance to dethrone the champ, Tyron Woodley. Some fights simply sell themselves: take an aggressive striker, Darren Till who held an undefeated record of 17 victories w/ ten TKO’s and matching him up against the powerful and experienced champion Woodley. One could guess that someone was going to get slept!
The Lead Up
Vegas Odds had Woodley losing this fight. “Till is too aggressive for the passive Woodley”, “Till towers over Woodley” Till… etc. etc. etc. As a fan, it's hard to root against the young lion Darren Till. He’s charismatic, he finishes fighters and he can hype the crowd (see Tills celebration after beating Thompson), “Everybody gettin it!” - Till.
Woodley was different leading up to this fight. In interviews Woodley told us that he is taking this fight personally, he spoke about the legacy he will leave in the mixed martial arts world as the greatest of all time. In prior fight promotions Woodley has called out big-name stars to fight such as George St Pierre, Conor Mcgregor, and Nick Diaz, no one answered the call so Woodley continued clobbering the welterweight division regulars. Today, Woodley isn’t calling anyone out. He simply doesn’t care, his confidence comes in the form of his assurance that no one with a popular name wants to fight him.
The bell rings, round one. Tyron Woodley is aggressive with his shadow boxing stance and foot motion moving left to right with his back against the cage. Darren Till stalked Woodley for most of the first round without throwing any strikes. Eager to get the action going Woodley swarms in on Till with a flurry of punches, each one flew towards Till’s chin with bad intentions. Although the punches found his chin, Till gives a head gesture to say he was not phased.
The crowd was immersed in the action: chants for Tyron “USA” which caught me off guard considering recent backlash towards Woodley from spectators leading up to this fight. In the first period, both fighters were patient, measuring the opponent's reaction time, the distance and hand speed. There wasn’t a lot of action, however, Woodley dominated with ring presence, plus he landed a strong Thai knee strike and won the control for position battle by a landslide.
In the second round Till showcased his more aggressive attacks but all three missed. Woodley countered Till with a strong right hand to the ear, chin, and neck dropping him on the canvas. Woodley gained ground control and landed significant elbows to Till but could not finish him off. Woodley stayed relentless in his pursuit to finish this fight. Till showed his grit, signaling to the referee that he was okay even with elbows flying in his face. Woodley acknowledged Till was not going to be KO’d easily. Woodley, coming into this fight held a six-three percent finishing rate in his victories. After recognized an opening in the ground game, Woodley began to secure position and lock in D’arce choke. Till tapped for submission, the American Airlines Arena erupted. Wow! What a finish to the fight. Woodley’s team made their way into the Octagon. Din Thomas who is Woodley’s coach of twelve years rewarded him with his long-pursued Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. What a night for the Champion. #AndStill
Woodley has been a class act for the UFC for a long time now. He’s as confident and outspoken as anyone else in the organization, top fighters do not want to go against him. Yet he has had a less than fan favorite perception lately. However, this performance reminds fans who Tyron Woodley is: a fighter who showed respect to a very tough challenger but understands the business he is in. Woodley has a new single being released this week which explains how he feels titled “I’ll beat you ass”.