The new generation of the UFC welterweight division is starting to make its presence felt in a major way, and that was evident again on Saturday when Darren Till dismantled Donald Cerrone in the main event of UFC Gdansk. Till’s victory launched the 24-year-old Scouser into immediate contention among the elite at 170 pounds, and now fellow up-and-comer Colby Covington hopes to do the same this weekend when he meets longtime contender Demian Maia at UFC Sao Paulo.
But while Covington is among the new UFC crop at welterweight making waves — joining the likes of Till, Kamaru Usman, and Mike Perry, just to name a few — Covington wasn’t too worried by what he saw out of Till’s breakout performance. The way Covington views things, Cerrone’s poor showing was an inevitable outcome, something that was only a matter of time for the 12-year veteran.
“I wasn’t that impressed,” Covington said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I mean, [Till] beat an aging vet who’s worn out. Donald Cerrone’s had a lot of fights, his chin is not the same. You could see in that fight, he got touched and he was already asking for a way out. He didn’t get put out unconscious. That’s an aging, worn-out vet who, his time’s up. His time’s been up. So I’m not that impressed with that win. In this sport you’ve got to be well-rounded, and I don’t think that kid (Till) is well-rounded.”
Curiously enough, Covington wasn’t alone in one regard of his assessment of the fight.
Till, too, echoed Covington’s belief that “Cowboy” was past his sell-by date in Poland, stating after the fight that he believed Cerrone was already “a broken man” by the time Cerrone climbed into the cage for his 26th Octagon appearance at UFC Gdansk.
“As soon as [Cerrone] stepped into the cage Saturday, I knew that he was a broken man, and I knew that he was mine,” Till said Monday on The MMA Hour.
“He just walked in the cage. He wasn’t the ‘Cowboy’ that I had seen fight Robbie Lawler. He wasn’t the ‘Cowboy’ I’ve seen fight all these years. He just, he looked at me and he could just see a 24-year-old monster in front of him. He was trying to make himself get hyped while he was in the cage. I could see him walking around and I’m just standing across from him, just looking and smiling with this confidence that I was going to take him out in a few minutes.”
Till’s confidence ended up being prophetic. The Liverpool native blew the doors off Cerrone, picking the popular veteran apart before finishing things off with a vicious salvo of blows in the closing minute of the first round.
Still, the loss was Cerrone’s third straight, putting “Cowboy” at 0-3 in his 2017 campaign, and Covington simply doesn’t put much stock into Till’s success.
“He finished Cerrone, but Cerrone, he’s not getting those lucky vitamins from Jackson-Wink anymore,” Covington said. “His body has dramatically changed since USADA came around. So I don’t think that victory is that impressive, and if you look at the way ‘Cowboy’ fought, that’s a completely different ‘Cowboy’ than we’ve ever seen in the years past, so I don’t really think that victory’s a very adequate victory.”
Covington, meanwhile, is gunning squarely for the top of the division. A victory on Saturday over Maia — a two-time title challenger who’s currently ranked No. 3 at 170 pounds — would put Covington at 8-1 under the UFC umbrella, and he hopes that record is good enough to warrant a shot against welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. And if Till wants to keep fighting it out with lower-ranked foes like Mike Perry in the meantime — considering the heat the two up-and-comers generated with their post-fight comments — Covington is more than happy to let him do so.
“Those two young kids can fight for the gatekeeper of the division. They can be the outsiders looking in,” Covington said. “I mean, I think it’s a good fight for them. I think they should fight for that type of fight, those guys in the No. 15 range in the world should fight for that opportunity. But I’m onto bigger and better things. I’m onto Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. I’m out here in this dump they call Sao Paulo, Demian Maia’s home.
“It’s a joke, man. They got me out here, it’s like hell out here. I’m just ready to get home to U.S. soil and fight for a title back home in the U.S.”