MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC Vegas 36, a five-round welterweight bout between top contenders Darren Till and Derek Brunson. The event takes place on Saturday, September 4 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Darren Till (-175)
Till (18-3-1) is the No. 7 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 28-year-old Brit has been in the UFC since 2015 and he has gone 6-3-1 over that stretch while fighting at both 170lbs and 185lbs. Since moving up to middleweight in 2019, Till is 1-1 with a split decision win over Kelvin Gastelum and a decision loss to Robert Whittaker. Given that Whittaker is a former champ and Till fought him tooth-and-nail, it shows that he can hang with the best in the world at 185lbs. Till is a good striker, a solid defensive wrestler, and has good cardio, which makes him a tough fight for anyone at middleweight.
Derek Brunson (+155)
Brunson (22-7) is the No. 5 ranked middleweight in the UFC. The 37-year-old American has been in the UFC since 2012 and he has gone 13-5 in the Octagon over that time. Brunson has fought the best in the world at 185lbs for many years and he has beaten some of the best fighters in the division such as Uriah Hall, Edmen Shahbazyan, Kevin Holland, Ian Heinisch, and Lyoto Machida. Brunson’s bread-and-butter his entire career has been his dominant ground game, as he has a strong wrestling base and is able to get the fight to the mat and hold him there. On the feet, Brunson has heavy hands and he has knocked out a number of durable opponents. However, defensively he does leave a lot of opening and he has been knocked out several times in the UFC himself.
Fight Breakdown: This is definitely an interesting fight in the UFC middleweight division and I expect the winner of this fight to be not more than one fight away from a title shot. I think this is going to be a pretty competitive fight, but I have to lean a little bit towards the favorite Till to get his hand raised. Although Brunson is an excellent grappler with knockout power, he still leaves a lot of holes in his striking defense and I believe a superior striker like Till should be able to capitalize on that. In addition, for as good as Brunson’s takedowns are, Till is an excellent defensive grappler and is hard to get down to the mat and be held down. We’ve also seen Till go the full five rounds several times before so I believe he should be able to thwart off Brunson’s takedown attempts for a long time. Also, given that Till is only 28 and Brunson is 37, there is a significant youth advantage here for Till and I can’t ignore it. Although Brunson has been on a hot streak as of late and Till has struggled, it’s all about matchups. In this fight, I think the stylistic matchup favors Till. I think he wins a decision.
Prediction: Darren Till