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Darren Till unsure about fighting Ben Askren next: ‘He needs to work his way up’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Ben Askren is flying out to the United Kingdom to watch UFC London live and in person. His plan is to call out the winner of the main event between Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal.

Askren has been saying this even before he beat Robbie Lawler by first-round submission at UFC 235 earlier this month. There’s just one caveat: Till, if he wins, might have other plans.

“He can call out, but he’s gotta work his way up the ranks as well,” Till told MMA Fighting on Wednesday. “It all depends on who I want to fight next — not him. He only has one fight in the UFC. He needs to work his way up.”

Till, 26, has been going back and forth with Askren a bit on Twitter. And Askren will be doing a question-and-answer session with the UK crowd Friday, which will be very interesting since Till is hugely popular in his home country.

Till said he’s not paying the talk any mind. He needs to beat Masvidal and then it’s a possibility he challenges new champion Kamaru Usman for the welterweight gold.

“I don’t give a f*ck,” Till said of his banter with Askren. “It’s not personal to me. It’s all business. So, my attention is on the welterweight gold. He gets a bit of attention like any welterweight gets attention. Obviously, Masvidal gets the most attention. It’s just business as usual.”

Till (17-1-1) had his undefeated streak broken by Tyron Woodley in a UFC welterweight title fight last September at UFC 228. Woodley won by second-round submission in a pretty complete performance. But Till, with his knockout power and charisma, doesn’t figure to be too far away from another title shot if he sticks at welterweight.

Askren, meanwhile, debuted in the UFC against Lawler in controversial fashion. Askren caught Lawler in a bulldog choke, seconds after getting pummeled by the former UFC champion, and referee Herb Dean called it off when it seemed Lawler was unconscious. The problem was Lawler jumped right up as soon as the choke was broken, adamant that he was not out cold.

Unlike some others, Till does give Askren full credit for the victory.

“I don’t know [if it was] legitimate fashion,” Till said. “I think he won the fight. I think it was a good stoppage. But he definitely got a hard fight in Robbie Lawler. You can’t take the credit away. He did win the fight. The referee stopped it, so he obviously won the fight.”

In Till’s mind, none of the trash talk Askren is dishing out is personal. “The Gorilla” believes Askren is just trying to pick a fight. Maybe it will work out for him; maybe not.

“I think he’s just promoting,” Till said. “Ben is a smart guy. I don’t know if he hates me. If he does, that’s just up to him. I don’t really give a f*ck about Ben any. I couldn’t care less what he’s doing, what he’s saying. I just reply when he tries to beef it up and it’s all good. It’s all business from me.”

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