UFC Fight Night 147: Till vs. Masvidal - Predictions and Picks
The UFC returns to the UK this weekend as UFC Fight Night 147 goes down from the O2 Arena in London, with a big-time Welterweight headliner in Darren Till vs. Jorge Masvidal. For a European UFC show, it’s pretty stacked actually, with the top three fights all having potential title implications.
Sure, there’s still a bunch of lesser fights on the card, but with largely reliable action fighters like Danny Roberts, Arnold Allen and Jack Marshman on the card, even those fights should be fun. And with this being the first show in the UK since May 2018’s visit to Liverpool, the crowd should be rabid.
The show airs in its entirety on the ESPN+ streaming service in the US, and on BT Sport 1 in the UK.
Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC Fight Night 147: Till vs. Masvidal.
#1. Darren Till vs. Jorge Masvidal
The crowd should be into this one massively as following the 2017 retirement of Michael Bisping, Darren Till has taken up the mantle of the confident, loud-mouth Brit who’s largely disliked in the US but absolutely beloved in the UK. ‘The Gorilla’ is, of course, looking to rebound in this fight, as the last time we saw him in the Octagon, he was pretty much whitewashed in an unsuccessful attempt to dethrone Tyron Woodley for the Welterweight crown.
Stylistically at least, this fight seems to be a far easier one for the Scouser than Woodley was. I might’ve picked Till to defeat Woodley back in September, but in hindsight, it was a bad pick – Till’s grappling had never really been tested before and once Woodley knocked him down, he had little answer for the champion’s offense from his guard.
Masvidal meanwhile is a fellow striker, for the most part. While he does have underrated wrestling and a pretty strong ground game – enough to tap out Michael Chiesa, for instance – he almost exclusively looks to keep his fights on the feet. That makes for an interesting match with Till, who obviously climbed the ranks in the UFC using his own powerful striking game.
So who will come out on top here? It’s quite hard to say. Till’s striking game is largely based around pressure – while he failed to walk Woodley down in their fight, for the most part, he’s used his footwork to back his opponents up and corral them against the fence, where he unleashes combinations with vicious power.
A huge Welterweight with a lengthy reach, Till has the advantage of being able to clock his opponents with winging punches from range, but he’s also excellent at using his elbows from close range, as we saw in his wins over Jessin Ayari and Donald Cerrone. And while his ground game is hugely unproven, he did finish Wendell Oliveira with some nasty elbows in his UFC debut back in 2015.
In terms of weaknesses, you’d have to pick up on how lost Till appeared to be on his back against Woodley – although it must be noted, Woodley is one of the most dangerous fighters in the world from top position and Till was already badly compromised after being dropped by ‘The Chosen One’.
Till has also struggled to make the 170lbs limit – something to watch for during Friday’s weigh-in – but it hasn’t massively affected him outside of being fined part of his purse. He infamously missed weight by 4lbs last summer for his fight with Stephen Thompson, but went 5 rounds with ‘Wonderboy’ comfortably and didn’t run out of steam.
Masvidal meanwhile is a pretty technical striker for a guy who started off as a Miami-based street fighter ala Kimbo Slice. It’s hard to really put him into one single category as he’s both excellent at counter-punching and also pressure-fighting, as we’ve seen in his excellent wins over notable strikers such as Donald Cerrone, Ross Pearson, Cezar Ferreira and KJ Noons.
The problem for Masvidal has often been a tendency to take his foot off the gas or to assume he’s winning rounds when he may not be; this tendency probably cost him decisions against Al Iaquinta, Lorenz Larkin, Benson Henderson, and Rustam Khabilov – fights that had he won, he probably would’ve found himself in a UFC title shot by now.
In terms of common opponents, both men took out Cerrone in a similar way – corralling ‘Cowboy’ into the fence and overwhelming him with flurries and combinations – but where Till was able to engage Stephen Thompson in the kind of point-fighting striking match beloved by ‘Wonderboy’ and eventually defeat him, ‘Gamebred’ simply couldn’t get a handle on the karate-based fighter and was largely picked apart for a decision.
It’s actually those two Thompson fights that have me leaning towards Till picking up the victory here. Despite a rabid crowd in his hometown of Liverpool and a ton of pressure on him given a title shot was likely at stake, Till still had the calmness of mind to not attempt to walk ‘Wonderboy’ down as he’d done to Cerrone, knowing that he’d be playing into Thompson’s hands. Instead, he surprised Thompson by engaging him in his own kind of fight, held his own and even came close to a 5th round finish.
Masvidal meanwhile tried to draw Thompson into the kind of fight he loves – an angry brawl with plenty of trades – and simply couldn’t adjust when Thompson refused to comply. Essentially, Masvidal’s hot-blooded style almost always benefits him because once he can draw an opponent into trading, he’s usually the more technical fighter and can blend that technique with his fiery attitude to great effect. But as Thompson showed, he can be picked apart by a striker more willing to fight on the outside.
Most notably, Thompson was able to use his long range to pick at Masvidal from the outside, never needing to corral him as he could land 3 or 4 clean strikes to the Cuban’s single shots. So could Till replicate that gameplan? He doesn’t have the same karate-based style as Thompson but we did see him deploy something similar in his own battle with ‘Wonderboy’, and for me, that’d be Till’s smartest route to victory.
Given Till should be much bigger than Masvidal – a former 155lber – come fight night, it should mean his slight reach advantage (0.5”) should appear much more than it actually is. Assuming he doesn’t get silly and trade wildly with ‘Gamebred’ – and even then, I think he’d stand a fair chance of cracking the Cuban before eating something nasty in return – I think Till can pick him off for 25 minutes to pick up the win.
The Pick: Till via unanimous decision