Darren Till will be gunning for a title fight against Israel Adesanya if he successfully disposes of ex-UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker at UFC on ESPN 14 this weekend.
Till, who used to compete at welterweight, edged out a split decision win over then-top-five middleweight Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244 and, if he adds a former champion to his resume, ‘The Gorilla’ won’t settle for anything less than a title shot after UFC Fight Island 3.
“Look at the two guys I’m fighting in my debuts at middleweight. Of course, I deserve a title shot.”
“I’ve never campaigned for [a title shot],” he added. “Even when I beat Stephen Thompson in my hometown, I didn’t campaign for the title shot but I feel like the stars have aligned. I beat [Kelvin] Gastelum easily, might I add, and he gave Adesanya the most trouble. Now Saturday I see myself beating Whittaker. I’m beating two of the best guys at middleweight.
“Where do you want me to go? Do you want me to go backwards? All these guys calling my name, we’re probably going to meet someday. I’m not avoiding you and you’re not avoiding me but I’m looking forward. We’ll see what happens Saturday. I beat Whittaker, I don’t want to hear any other name come out of anyone’s mouth apart from Israel Adesanya.”
Adesanya is rumored to defend his middleweight title against top Brazilian contender Paulo Costa at UFC 253, but Till will be ready to step in if ‘Borrachinha’ pulls out.
“If I win, I’m fighting Israel Adesanya and that’s all there is to it,” Till said. “If him and Costa don’t fight, which I don’t know if I see it yet. I’ll step in. After this fight Saturday, if all goes well and I win, I’m going to jump straight back.
“I’m going to have a week off and then I’m going to jump straight back into training and stay ready for September time. Something could happen.”
Till is prepared to challenge Costa if the 29-year-old powerhouse dethrones Adesanya at UFC 253, but the Liverpudlian believes ‘The Last Stylebender’ is the bigger matchup.
“I just think it’s a bigger fight me and Adesanya,” Till said. “Right now, obviously I don’t want to talk too much about Adesanya. I’ve got a big, big person to fight on Saturday but I think that fight could just be in the top-10, top-five of UFC’s biggest fights. That’s a fight that’s just got to happen.
“If Costa wins, then I’ll make a fight with him, I’ll campaign for a fight against him. But we’ll see. Until I see both them guys weighing in Sept. , I’ll believe the fight’s happening.”
UFC Fight Island 3: Whittaker vs. Till is expected to take place this Saturday, July 26, at the UFC Fight Island facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.