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Darren Till believes UFC won’t resume schedule ‘in the next three months’, willing to compete on ‘Fight Island’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Darren Till is ready to compete on Fight Island if his services are needed, although that may take some time according to one of the UFC’s top middleweight contenders.

With the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 schedule due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Till is currently scheduled to headline the UFC’s return to Dublin in August against former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker.

Last week, Dana White announced that the promotion’s slate of events have been indefinitely postponed. Until when, is the big question right now as being part of the UFC roster is not the same as most other major sports.

Although the promotion has been paying some of the fighters scheduled to compete on previously cancelled events, Till admits it is a tough time to be a professional mixed martial artist.

“I think the only problem, now, is wages for people,” Till told the Fight Disciples Podcast. “Fighters need wages, don’t they? My sponsors have been cut off for a few months as well. Tough times for a lot of people.”

White underwent a lot of scrutiny for attempting to move forward with events during the COVID-19 outbreak, especially when all other sporting events postponed their schedules weeks prior. There have been many opinions surrounding the UFC’s decision to try to get things back to normal—beginning with the now-postponed UFC 249 event that was set to take place this Saturday.

Till is a little more on the side of indifference.

“If Dana’s been told to shut it down then it is what it is,” Till said.

“I know a lot of people have mixed opinions on it, and I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I don’t know whether to have an opinion on it because if you’re not allowed to go socialize with your people, then is it good to put an event on? Is it good he tried to do it for the fighters and for the viewers to be entertained? Fuc*in, whatever.

“My little thing to say now is, ‘opinions are like as*holes, everyone’s got one.”

With UFC Dublin set to take place a little over four months from now, there’s no telling what the sports world will look like at that time. White stated once UFC 249 and future events were postponed, he would try to get Fight Island up and running as soon as possible to start cranking out events.

Should the promotion call on Till to fight ahead of schedule, “The Gorilla” would sign the dotted line. The 27-year-old has a hard time believing, however, that the UFC will resume events any time soon.

“I mean, yeah if they call up and say, ‘Let’s do it. We’ve got the island open, we’ve agreed to it now, you’re going to be the fourth event against Whittaker,’ yeah, I’ll fight,” Till explained. “I can’t see any fights happening in the next three months.

“I don’t think we’ve hit a proper lockdown yet because I live in town and people are just out and about.”

There’s only so much a fighter can do right now to prepare for a fight during this chaotic time in the world. A full training camp would be impossible due to social distancing and gathering bans.

If and when the Fight Island events kick off, they will be behind closed doors. With no audience, and far-from-perfect preparations, Till is of the mindset that everyone would at least be on equal playing fields.

“My foe Masvidal put it on Twitter: he said ‘fighting in front of no crowds, that’s new to do’. He’s done it in backyards,” Till said. “Obviously, I’ve never been filmed fighting in backyards, but I’ve done enough fighting in the street.

“If they rang me and said, ‘listen, you’re going to be paid as normal for a fight against Whittaker, you have a month to be ready’, I’d stay sound, yeah. I’d run everyday to keep my weight down and go fight.

“I’d go in with the mentality I’m not the fittest I’m going to be, whatever. I’m just going in there to slug it out. I think that’s the mentality that I’d have. So I’d do it, yeah. But would everyone else?”