Darren Till is hoping a win over Marvin Vettori at UFC on ABC 2 will catapult him into title contention against reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
Till predicts a striking chess match with Adesanya, who is expected to return to middleweight following his loss to reigning light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 last weekend.
“I think me and Marvin are knocking on the door,” Till told ESPN ahead of his fight with Vettori (h/t MMA Junkie’s Farah Hannoun). “It’s like a little mini-middleweight competition right now, the same as lightweight, so it definitely excites me. To just be at the top and to be getting these chances and knowing what’s next and all that – but I’ve got a steamroller in front of me, and I don’t want to look too far ahead. I know Izzy’s calling me out, practically, and stuff like that. I’ve called him out for a long time. We were destined to fight even when I was a welterweight. He called me out then, when I was at the top of welterweight.
“Right now, I’m just focused on myself,” Till added. “I’m doing my own thing. But this is the thing: I think it’s one of these fights with me and Izzy, I think it’s magician vs. magician. Who’s got, like, the Kryptonite to beat the other guy’s striking, you know? I’ve said it for the longest time, I’m one of the best strikers in the UFC. And I think Izzy is definitely there. He could be ahead the way’s he’s been fighting – he’s ahead of me right now.”
There is a mutual respect between both fighters but Till believes he has the specific skillset to usurp ‘The Last Stylebender’ at middleweight.
“I just feel like I’ve got the specifics to beat him, and I’m sure he’s up for the challenge and he thinks he’s got the specifics to beat me, so I think it’s going to be a good fight when it happens,” Till said. “It’s good to be getting called out by the champion. Usually, it’s the challengers calling out the champion. The champion’s calling me out. I must be doing something right.”