If Darren Till beats Robert Whittaker at UFC on ESPN 14, he doesn’t see his road ahead leading anywhere but to a showdown with reigning middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
After knocking off one-time interim title challenger Kelvin Gastelum by split decision in his debut at 185 pounds and with a fight scheduled with a former champion this weekend, Till can’t fathom why he would entertain any other fight in the division should he win on Saturday night.
“Just look at my resume,” Till said when speaking to MMA Fighting during the UFC on ESPN 14 media day on Tuesday. “Just look at all of my resume from welterweight and now look at my resume at middleweight.
“Look at the two guys I’m fighting in my debuts at middleweight. Of course, I deserve a title shot.”
This past weekend, Jack Hermansson picked up a statement win of his own against Gastelum with a nasty first-round heel hook. Afterwards, he called for the winner of the upcoming fight between Till and Whittaker as his next opponent.
While Till isn’t discounting Hermansson or anybody else in the division, he just believes a title fight against Adesanya is the natural next step for him with a victory.
“I’ve never campaigned for [a title shot],” Till said. “Even when I beat Stephen Thompson in my hometown, I didn’t campaign for the title shot but I feel like the stars have aligned. I beat [Kelvin] Gastelum easily, might I add, and he gave Adesanya the most trouble. Now Saturday I see myself beating Whittaker. I’m beating two of the best guys at middleweight.
“Where do you want me to go? Do you want me to go backwards? All these guys calling my name, we’re probably going to meet someday. I’m not avoiding you and you’re not avoiding me but I’m looking forward. We’ll see what happens Saturday. I beat Whittaker, I don’t want to hear any other name come out of anyone’s mouth apart from Israel Adesanya.”
Of course, Adesanya has his own business to handle when he faces off with ferocious Brazilian knockout artist Paulo Costa at UFC 253 in September.
Then again, Till isn’t totally convinced that fight will actually happen, which is why he’ll be staying ready for the call just in case.
“If I win, I’m fighting Israel Adesanya and that’s all there is to it,” Till said. “If him and Costa don’t fight, which I don’t know if I see it yet. I’ll step in. After this fight Saturday, if all goes well and I win, I’m going to jump straight back.
“I’m going to have a week off and then I’m going to jump straight back into training and stay ready for September time. Something could happen.”
It’s evident that Till has his sights set on Adesanya and the middleweight title but he’s not opposed to a fight against Costa either if he wins in September.
That said, Till truly believes he’s on a collision course with Adesanya in what he predicts will be one of the biggest fights in UFC history.
“I just think it’s a bigger fight me and Adesanya,” Till said. “Right now, obviously I don’t want to talk too much about Adesanya. I’ve got a big, big person to fight on Saturday but I think that fight could just be in the top-10, top-five of UFC’s biggest fights. That’s a fight that’s just got to happen.
“If Costa wins, then I’ll make a fight with him, I’ll campaign for a fight against him. But we’ll see. Until I see both them guys weighing in Sept. , I’ll believe the fight’s happening.”