In his first fight back since losing the title, Robert Whittaker proved he’s still one of the best middleweights in the world.
The former champion had to battle for five hard-fought rounds to get past Darren Till in a fight that saw both men dropped, bruised and bloody after 25 minutes in the octagon. In the end, Whittaker did enough to secure the victory, with all three judges giving him the fight by 48-47 scores.
“My brain is on overload,” Whittaker said after having his hand raised in victory. “I tell you what, that fight was so stressful.
“Honestly, I hope the fans and everybody can appreciate it. Cause that level for me, that was one of the most technical fights I’ve ever had to fight.”
Whittaker eventually got the win, but nothing came easy for him all night long
One-time welterweight title contender Till showed patience early, making Whittaker pay during a wild exchange on the feet. As Whittaker threw a punch, Till came at him with an elbow that momentarily dropped the former champion to the canvas.
Whittaker got back to his feet in a hurry, but it was clear the shot had him rattled.
As the fight moved forward, Whittaker not only recovered from the elbow, but he started landing with more accuracy while throwing with power behind every punch.
Much like he got dropped during a fiery exchange in the first round, Whittaker returned the favor with a nasty right hand that put Till on the mat in the second. While not as well-known for his ground game, Whittaker followed Till down to the canvas, where he cracked the Brit with a clubbing elbow.
With so much championship experience in his back pocket, Whittaker also conserved his energy in the right spots while targeting Till’s lead leg with kicks. Whittaker continued to throw that devastating overhand right, but Till did an effective job to stay out the way.
Unfortunately, Till was struggling to stay as quick on his feet after complaining to his corner between rounds that his leg was giving him a lot of problems. Despite the damage done, Till stood his ground and actually put together a stinging combination of punches toward\ the latter half of the fourth round that snapped Whittaker’s head back and put him in retreat.
As time ticked away into the final round, Whittaker still peppered away at Till’s lead leg and then came back up top with his punches. Not to be outdone, Till stayed right in his face as he tried to weather the storm, but ultimately, he wasn’t landing with as much power or accuracy in those final few minutes.
Till did land another slicing elbow strike late in the fight that opened a huge gash on Whittaker’s head. The blood was flowing down the former champion’s face and back, but it didn’t appear that the strike did much more than superficial damage.
It seems the judges saw the same with all three giving Whittaker the decision win.
As he bounces back from a loss to Israel Adesanya in his previous fight, Whittaker had a big smile on his face following a win in the main event. While he undoubtedly re-enters the title talk conversation with this victory, Whittaker wasn’t even thinking about what comes next except for his flight home to Australia.
“Honestly, I want to go home to my babies, I want to go home to my wife,” Whittaker said.
As for Till, he came up short in his bid to get a second straight win over a top-ranked middleweight, but he didn’t walk away without proving he’s absolutely an elite fighter at 185 pounds.