Prior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look ahead to the main event of UFC 228 as Tyron Woodley defends his welterweight title against Darren Till.
Tyron Woodley (Record: 18-3-1, -115 Pickem, Power Ranking: A+)
The UFC Welterweight Champion for over two years, Tyron Woodley is defending the championship for the fourth time at UFC 228. In his last bout, he successfully defended every takedown attempt from Demian Maia to win a wide decision and retain his title.
A two-time NCAA Division I All-American in wrestling and a NCAA Championship runner-up, Woodley is one of the best wrestlers in the welterweight division. Not surprisingly, Woodley’s game begins with his wrestling. Over his career in Strikeforce and the UFC, he has an incredible 94 percent takedown defense. The last time he taken down by an opponent was in 2014 by Rory Macdonald. By defending takedowns, Woodley is able to capitalize on his power striking. The former University of Missouri wrestler is also the most powerful striker in the division. He holds devastating knockouts over Josh Koscheck and Robbie Lawler as well as a stoppage over Carlos Condit after inflicting injury to his knee in that bout. Furthermore, he had Thompson in all sorts of trouble in their first fight because of his fast, powerful hands. Historically, Woodley’s biggest issue is fighting at a consistent pace. He has done well in recent fights in that regard when he’s able to control the dynamic.
Darren Till (Record: 17-0-1, -115 Pickem, Power Ranking: A-)
The Liverpool-born fighter has quickly moved up the UFC rankings putting himself in position as a true contender for the welterweight championship. He rose to prominence with a flawless performance against Donald Cerrone in a first round knockout win in October 2017.
The talented Englishman started his training in England in muay thai as a teenager before spending 3.5 years in Brazil prior to his return to England and rise in the UFC. Till’s game begins and ends with his striking prowess. He’s a southpaw through and through. He has some similarities to Conor McGregor in that he uses a lot of feints and has good footwork to setup his big left cross. That is his signature punch and the one that his opponents need to watch out for. Till is an excellent striker from his left side, but offers very little attack from his right. One can make the case that he’s a one sided fighter and it will be intriguing to see just how well he can deal with a multi-faceted fighter. Overall, Till has low end volume landing 2.67 significant strikes per minute, but lands at a high clip of 46%. He’s accurate when he does throw, but being so one sided keeps his volume low. Till has very good takedown defense with an 83% success rate. He hasn’t been tested on the ground during his time in the UFC.
In what should be an intriguing matchup, Darren Till is the latest contender to attempt to rustle the welterweight title away from Tyron Woodley. While Woodley showed off his power to win the welterweight title, it has been his patience in the striking department and ability to defend takedowns which has allowed him to retain. In a fight with Darren Till, he will need to go back to his days as a challenger and be more active to keep the belt. Till’s a huge welterweight and will have a height and size advantage in the cage, but just like the Thompson fight I see him being tentative in this bout. I expect this to be a close fight as both fighters have power on the feet and will look to be defensive as not to absorb the fateful blow. The X Factor in this fight is wrestling. While Till has shown good takedown defense, he’s never faced a wrestler remotely close to as good as Woodley. I expect Woodley to mix in some takedowns in this bout which will solidify rounds for him. Surprisingly, I think we see this bout go the distance as each fighter will be tentative on the feet. Fight goes to decision is +110 and while I think that ultimately happens, it’s not nearly a high enough price to bet in a bout with fighters with that much power. Woodley is my favorite to get his hand raised, but this won’t be a walk in the park as he’ll need to be careful in the stand up to not absorb any major shots.