ABU DHABI – Darren Till respects Robert Whittaker’s skills, but feels he’s much better than the former champion at his own game.
The Scouser takes on Whittaker (20-5 MMA, 11-3 UFC) in the main event of UFC on ESPN 14 on Saturday, which takes place at Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and airs on ESPN. It’s a significant bout as both Till (18-2-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) and Whittaker are high in the middleweight rankings and they’re big names in the division. The two competitors are also regarded by many to be among the best strikers at 185 pounds.
Whittaker’s rise to become UFC champ was aided by his slick striking, and the former titleholder and argues he’s better in every facet of MMA, Till feels he has the advantage in key areas.
“Of course he should say that and I should say the opposite – that I’m better everywhere,” Till told reporters, including MMA Junkie, on Tuesday at UFC on ESPN 14 media day. “But I’m not like that. I think Rob is potentially, probably more of a seasoned wrestler, a little bit better in that department. Jiu-jitsu wise, I don’t know. Striking wise he ain’t even close to the level, but I’m saying that and he could come in and show me something new and, ‘Pom, pom,’ and thats how it is. He’s meant to say that. Would you expect him to say anything else?”
Regardless of his level of confidence, Till said he won’t underestimate Whittaker. In fact, he will purposely look at Till as superior in skill ahead of their middleweight clash.
“I think from me, from an individual point of view, I do everything I can in my power in the gym and in life to put myself, even though I’m prepared 100 percent, put myself a little down and say (I’m) under Rob and look at him as everything, as the beast I have to conquer,” Till explained. “I don’t know how I can explain it best, but I just like to think of Rob as better than me. That’s it.”
Till is coming off a successful middleweight debut, as he outpointed Kelvin Gastelum to a split decision at UFC 244 back in November. The 27-year-old contender hopes to get a second win at 185 pounds and earn the next title shot against the winner of Israel Adesanya vs. Paulo Costa, who meet for the middleweight belt at UFC 253 on Sept. 19.
Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2020/07/darren-till-robert-whittaker-striking-skills-same-level-ufc-on-espn-14-interview/