Wonderboy's level too high for Till
May 22, 2018 3:07 AM
by Alan Berg
For the first time ever, UFC heads to Liverpool for UFC Fight Night as No. 1 ranked Welterweight Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson enters hostile territory to battle England’s own and No. 8 ranked Darren Till this Sunday.
UFC Fight Pass kicks things off early at 6:30 a.m. PT. FS1 will have the rest of the show, prelims starting at 8 a.m., main card starting at 10 a.m.
Unfortunately no lines are up in Vegas at press time, but Thompson is expected to be a -155 to -170 favorite.
Before we get into the in depth portion, I have to say, this is a great fight. Wonderboy is about as special a UFC fighter as there is in the sport. His first fight with Tyron Woodley is one of the best fights I have ever seen in the octagon. He came up short in that fight, a drawl; the rematch however was one of the worst fights I have ever sat through live. Except that one stinker, every other fight I have seen Thompson in has been a joy to watch. He has wins over Robert Whittaker, Jake Ellenberger, Johny Hendricks (when he was still Johny Hendricks), Rory McDonald and Jorge Masvidal. That is quite the list.
Till, on the other hand, has only one name on the resume – a faded Donald Cerrone. While I love Cowboy Cerrone, he has been in this game a long time and is at best a bottom Top 10 guy at this point in his career. With that said, Till has taken care of everyone in his way minus a draw against Nicolas Dalby in which Till was in big trouble in the third round; but he is unbeaten.
This is a giant step up for Till in competition. Mix that in with the pressure of fighting in Liverpool in front of so many supporters and it’s a tall task for him to defeat Wonderboy.
For Till to win this five-round main event fight he will need to look at the fight in blocks of time. Quite possibly the most important idea here is to finish each round strong to sway judges in his direction. Till will need to have a very controlled, yet aggressive offensive game plan. My advice would be to keep things simple, unless Thompson over pursues a strike, in the aspect of work behind a jab with one-two’s to try and consistently disrupt Wonderboy’s timing.
Thompson is too great a counter striker to get overzealous with combinations if nothing Till landed has Wonderboy stunned. If he can get Thompson used to that pace, he should be able to relax him enough to pick spots in the final 60 seconds where he can unleash some late flurries, even if nothing big is landing, to give the impression of controlling the fight.
For Thompson it’s keep busy. The old cliché of “be first” does apply here; don’t let Till get comfortable all night. Keep those leg kicks flying high and striking Till’s front leg on the regular. Once Wonderboy establishes his range and Till’s technique, I expect Till to walk into something Thompson sets up beautifully. While this looks to be a dangerous fight on paper, Thompson has been in main events and on the big stage, and this might be a case of too much, too soon for Till. I think Thompson stops in him in Round 3, with a left hook/kick combo. THOMPSON