This is the UFC on ESPN 14 live blog for Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Till, the middleweight headliner for Saturday’s fight card at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Whittaker returns after losing the belt to current champ Israel Adesanya this past October at UFC 243. Till aims to make his case for his first title shot at 185 pounds after a decision win over Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244.
Check out the UFC on ESPN 14 live blog below.
Round 1: Till jumps in and takes a left jab. Whittaker uses that jab again to jam Till’s forward approach. Till pressuring heavily, and Whittaker goes with a left hook that’s just short. Pause as both reset. Feints from Whittaker, and a kick is scooped away. Till and Whittaker collide, and Whittaker hits the deck. Not sure whether Whittaker was hurt, but he gets up quickly, and the fight resumes its normal pace. Till begins to pressure again, and Whittaker swings wild to keep him off. Till goes high with a kick and looks for that straight left. He starts to connect, and Whittaker’s counters are wild. Till presses to the fence, and the two pause. Whittaker turns and tries to escape, but Till likes the fight where it is. Throw attempts from Whittaker gets Till off, and he’s got Whittaker cornered. High kick blocked by Whittaker, who’s consistently getting backed up. They trade low kicks, and Till goes back to feinting. Right hook clips Till, who ackowledges the shot and continues to press. He gets out of the way just as Whittaker goes high with a kick and continues to press. Whittaker tries a few forward charges, and a straight left connects. Another nice low kick from Whittaker ends the frame.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 for Till.
Round 2: Whittaker tries that lunging right again, and Till catches a left hook when he comes in hands down. Whittaker and Till trade low kicks, taking the steam out of one Whittaker punch. Till goes to work on the lead leg, and a lunging right hand drops Till. He quickly recovers and ties up. Whittaker tries to frame off and use his elbow, and he beats the body. Nice left elbow, and Till tries to tie up again. Whittaker works a guard pass and lands a nice elbow. Now in half-guard, Whittaker tries to trap Till’s right arm and then goes back to the body. Whittaker’s left elbow makes Till try a scramble, and Till moves to his hands and knees before getting up. Till back on his feet and moving forward. Whittaker goes back to the leg. Till trying to set up big punches with his feints, his face swollen from the damage he took on the canvas. Whittaker attacks the lead leg, and Till again inches forward, drawing another flurry from Whittaker. Guard is more on point for Whittaker, who misses high with a kick to close the frame.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 for Whittaker, and it’s 19-19.
Round 3: Whittaker goes back to work on the lead leg of Till. Now, Till is trying to take the target away by lifting his leg. More feints from Till, who lunges with that straight left and follows with a high kick. Again, Whittaker sees it coming. Till trying to set up that straight right, and Whittaker comes out windmilling with that right. High kick dodged by Till. Uppercut connects for the Brit, and he draws a straight jab that connects. Till gets around Whittaker, who covers up. Knee up the middle from Till, and Till again dodges the high kick. As Whittaker gets in close and fires that right, Till slips and comes back with his left. Whittaker keeps him off balance with a leg grab, then resets. Another fastball right from Whittaker, and it whiffs. Till tries that elbow again, and Whittaker presses briefly for a takedown. Game of cat and mouse as the two try and read each other’s charges. Whittaker explodes into another punch and misses. Round comes to a close with a whimper as they stare at each other.
MMA Fighting scores the round 10-9 for Whittaker, who’s up 29-28.
Round 4: Till explodes in and draws a short right from Whittaker. Nice straight left from Till, who’s picked up the pace a little bit. Whittaker bouncing back and forth, and a staring match ensues. Neither wants to make the first mistake and be exposed. Whittaker goes to the lead leg again. High kick from Whittaker whiffs. Till cracks with an elbow, and he follows up with a couple of nice shots. Whittaker whiffs on a counter-charge, and they reset. They clash heads as both explode. Again, staring match. Whittaker tries a jab and then grabs for a leg, if only to distract for a punch. Till trying to draw the hook to counter with his straight punches. Whittaker takes a straight left. Again, Whittaker charges in, and Till works knees to the body as the ex-champ sneaks in a punch. Straight left set up takedown attempt from Whittaker, who can’t close it out with a punch. Whittaker with a right hand, and Till dodges the follow-up attempts. Round ends in a staring contest.
MMA Fighting scores the frame 10-9 for Till, and it’s 38-38.
Round 5: Whittaker sits down on a right and nails it. Another one sets up a single-leg attempt, and Till pulls away and tries to put that straight left on target. They clash again as Whittaker charges. Till looking for that high kick again. Whittaker goes back to his kicks, pawing away to the leg and body. Nice one-two from Till, who’s just waiting for the right opportunity to counter. Whittaker’s charges still keeping him off balance. They trade leg kicks, and Whittaker level changes into a punch. Till sticks that left straight again. Whittaker eats a right hand going in with his left hook. Till chases again and tries his straight left. Whittaker attacks the lead leg, and Till grits it out. Another single leg into a punch attempt from Whittaker. Whittaker kicks to the body, and Till replies with a lead elbow. Cut opened on Whittaker’s ear, and Herb Dean stops the action briefly. Whittaker grabs the leg and completes a takedown, only to see Till pop right back up. Bleeding heavily, he hangs on as Till continues to right himself. They finally come to a stop against the cage with Whittaker moving for the takedown. A very, very close round and a close fight.
MMA Fighting scores the frame 10-9 for Till, who gets the 48-47 score.
OFFICIAL RESULT: Robert Whittaker def. Darren Till via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)