As someone who was a highly touted, unbeaten prospect at one time, Darren Till has some advice for Sean O’Malley.
O’Malley suffered his first career loss via first-round TKO to Marlon Vera in the co-main event of UFC 252 earlier this month. “Sugar” suffered an ankle injury in the fight following - what seemed to look like - a low kick from Vera that changed the entire complexion of the bantamweight contest.
On a recent episode of his podcast The Timbo Sugar Show which he co-host’s alongside coach Tim Welch, O’Malley didn’t mince words about how he felt.
“Let’s look at his career in five years, let’s look at mine,” O’Malley said. “I’m going to be f**king world champion, he’s going to be a f**king journeyman. That’s just what his style is. He wins some, he loses some. He’s slow, but he’s gritty, so he’s going to be able to finish some people after they beat him up for a while. The way his pace was, super slow like that, and I was exploding into shots, I wasn’t gonna get tired and I was just gonna beat his ass.
“I don’t know if I was gonna get a finish in that first round. He was tough and he was patient, which was fine, because that’s easier for me, he wasn’t doing anything, he was standing there. It f**king sucks.”
Till heard those comments and, while appearing on Believe You Me with former middleweight champion Michael Bisping, took the time to give the 25-year-old some advice.
“You always have to give credit,” Till said. “I was saying something to someone before about Sean O’Malley with ‘Chito’ Vera, I really like Sean and I think he’s gonna be good, but you got beat, man. Take your loss, have respect, you will be a champion yet in the future, but don’t start calling the guy who just beat you a journeyman.
“I’m not throwing disrespect at him. I think he’s a good fighter, but there’s two things that stuck out in my mind. One, is the way that he lost [with his ankle] and it just makes me think that I fought three complete rounds with a torn MCL. My knees are f*cked. I know what I had to fight with for those three rounds. I couldn’t use what I’m best at. I’m a master of movement and I couldn’t do it. I was there. There was no way I was going. Even when Rob took me down, I was in so much pain and I was like, ‘Get back up, get back up, get back up.’
“Number two, I just think the way he’s handling it after the fight, ‘Oh, he’s a journeyman, I’m gonna be a champion,’ mate, just take the loss. Give the respect and you’ll be a champion. Just forget all of that.”
“The Gorilla” entered the UFC in May 2015 as a highly touted 12-0 prospect and finished Wendell Oliveira in the second round in his octagon debut at UFC Fight Night 67. After fighting Nicolas Dalby to a draw five months later, Till returned in May 2017 to kick off a breakout 12-month stretch.
With victories over Jessin Ayari and Bojan Velickovic, the 27-year-old Till would compete in back-to-back main events where he finished Donald Cerrone via first-round TKO, and earned a unanimous decision win over Stephen Thompson to set himself up for his first shot at UFC gold.
He would face Tyron Woodley for the welterweight title at UFC 228 and was submitted in the second round to suffer the first loss of his pro career. Till would go on to get finished by Jorge Masvidal in March 2019 before moving up to middleweight where he would pick up a a split decision win over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244, before dropping a decision in his most recent appearance to Robert Whittaker in July.
When it comes to offering advice to O’Malley, Till has been there before and knows what it’s like.
“The world’s best have all lost,” Till stated. “Muhammad Ali, I even believe Floyd Mayweather lost, too, even though he is one of a kind. We all lost. I am one of the world’s best and we all lose. Take your loss, go back, come back.”
Till is set to return at the UFC’s Dec. 5 event where he’ll meet Jack Hermansson in the main event. Knowing the mistakes he made in his last fight - despite suffering a torn MCL - the Liverpool native expects a quick night at the office to put himself back in the championship mix at 185.
“I want to be more strategic for this fight,” Till explained. “I want to nullify what he’s good at and I’m gonna fight with what I’m good at. Whatever, mate, I’m gonna knock him out in the first round.”