- Date & Location: Saturday July 25 @ Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Odds: Whittaker -115, Till -115
- Prediction: Whittaker by decision
On July 25, former UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker steps into the octagon for the first time since he lost his title to Israel Adesanya by knockout in October 2019. Whittaker, who is the No. 1 ranked fighter in the official UFC middleweight rankings, faces the No. 5 ranked Darren Till, who is coming off a November split decision win over Kelvin Gastelum.
WHITTAKER vs. TILL ODDS
WHITTAKER vs. TILL PREDICTION & PICK
Since he moved to middleweight from welterweight in 2014, Whittaker is 8-1. He has fought some of the best in the 185-pound division and done so without apprehension. He not only defeated Yoel Romero, who is one of the scariest fighters in the UFC in any weight division, in 2017, but he also beat him in 2018.
Till was always big for a welterweight, but he did not make the full-time jump to middleweight until he faced Gastelum. His high ranking in the division seems based more on the lack of depth in the division than on accomplishments at 185 pounds.
I think Whittaker wins this one due to his experience and all-around skills.
Pick: Whittaker (-115)
BETTING VALUE WITH WHITTAKER
The stats favor Whittaker in every way in this fight, so does his style. Whittaker lands nearly twice as many significant strikes per minute than Till does. He has also knocked out nine opponents, so those strikes pack some power.
Whittaker is likely to be more aggressive than usual in this fight because of his loss to Adesanya and his desire to erase any doubts the UFC and its fans may have about him.
The ex-champion could score a knockout win in this matchup. That is not out of the question and should be considered. By the same token, there is a chance Whittaker’s aggression could cost him because Till is a potent counter striker.
However, I think this one goes the distance and Whittaker gets his hand raised in victory.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Whittaker has faced top-level middleweight fighters for the past five years. His experience in the division gives him a leg up over Till. The ex-champ also has the advantage in power, output and defense. I also don’t think Whittaker would head back to competition without the hunger he needs to become champion once again. As I stated above, Till is a good fighter, but his defense first style could be costly against a motivated and tuned in Whittaker.
Whittaker’s eight fight winning streak at middleweight was an impressive one. He scored back-to-back TKO wins over Derek Brunson and Ronaldo Souza before facing Yoel Romero in consecutive fights. He went 25 minutes with the dangerous wrestler and striker in both outings. Those battles took a lot out of Whittaker and that fact could partially explain his loss to Adesanya.
Till was stopped in his last two fights at welterweight. Then-champion Tyron Woodley submitted Till in September 2018 and then Jorge Masvidal knocked him out in March 2019. His split-decision win over Gastelum, who is also a former welterweight, took place in November 2019. Till only landed 36 significant strikes against Gastelum.
FIGHT STATS: WHITTAKER vs. TILL
|Robert Whittaker||Category||Darren Till|
|4.77||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||2.41|
|3.7||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.03|
|0.36||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||41|
|0.00||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.0|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
This is a good fight for Whittaker to prove that the fights with Romero did not change him for the worse. History tells us that fighters seem to compete differently after the contend with Romero. Whittaker can change that narrative with a win against Till.
There are questions about Till being a legitimate contender at middleweight. A win over the former champion will go a long way toward establishing him as a title threat.