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Darren Till: ‘There’s no way this fight’s not going to happen because of me’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

DALLAS – The witching hour for Darren Till is not midnight, as it is in folklore, but Friday morning at the fighter hotel. That’s when he will officially step on the scale and a number will blink back to inform him as to whether or not he is fighting for the welterweight title on Saturday night. Of all the distractions during UFC 228 fight week, the question of his weight has been the most burdensome.

That’s been the cost of coming in over the 171-pound allotment for his welterweight bout with Stephen Thompson back in May. The violation wasn’t enough to prevent him from getting a crack at Tyron Woodley’s title, but it was plenty to give him a stigma heading into the clash itself.

Yet as the Scouser Till faced off with Woodley Thursday afternoon, he was already narrowed down to 178 pounds, according to his nutritionist Eoghan Gallagher. Right on schedule to try and become the U.K.’s second UFC champion. If his fight has drawn near with an ounce of uncertainty for the public — especially with Kamaru Usman lurking in Dallas, prepared to step in if he doesn’t hit weight — it hasn’t registered for Till himself.

“I just haven’t given it any thought, yeah?” he told MMA Fighting at the UFC 228 media day. “In this life, we can’t manipulate what’s going to happen. At the end of the day what’s going to be is going to be. I’ve come to Dallas to fight Tyron Woodley. If anything changes and I have to fight Usman, I’ll fight Usman, but I’ve come to fight Tyron. There’s no way this fight’s not going to happen because of me. I’m ready.”

Till has been fairly tolerant of questions about his weight this week, but as Gallagher noted, the doubt has taken a toll. Not so much in the mental sense, but in the annoying sense. The 25-year old Till just wants to get on with the biggest challenge of his career, and to prove once and for all he can exist peacefully in a welterweight frame.

“I just want to fight,” he said. “To me a fight’s a fight. Whether it be it’s in the gym, or on the biggest stage in the world. It is what it is, let’s do it.”

Throughout the last few weeks, Till has been around a supportive cast of friends in Las Vegas, and now in Dallas. Many of his coaches and training partners from Liverpool’s Team Kaobon have been with him on the journey, which Till himself says is playing out more like an adventure.

The last things left to accomplish are to make weight, and then take the 170-pound belt from Woodley. If he does that, he says it will be a shared feat for all those who’ve supported him in the gym through the whole thing.

“[My team] have all been together for the past few weeks,” he said. “We’ve been living together, eating together, doing everything together. We’re all together in this. It’s Team Kaobon. It’s not the Darren Till fight, it’s the Team Kaobon fight. I’ve been doing this for years now. It’s time to shine.”