Darren Till is about to face the biggest test of his career against Stephen Thompson in UFC Fight Night 130: Liverpool.
Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson is a striker with some super-evolved Karate background, he started training at age of three under his father's supervision.
Wonderboy's father, Ray Thompson was a professional kickboxer and owned a karate school in South Carolina Thompson.
He started competing in kickboxing and karate at the age of 15 and is undefeated through 37 amateur and 57 professional kickboxing matches.
The Undefeated Darren Till is the fighting pride of Liverpool and is coming after a big win against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone.
Till has strong Muay Thai background which makes this fight is more interesting due to the dogma prevailing in the combat world that Muay Thai being the kryptonite of Karate.
A fight which involves high-level striking is hard to predict, but some of the critical factors which can determine the result of this fight are given here.
#5 The Age Factor
It is correct to say that 'Age of fighters' has been a constant topic of conversation at recent UFC events.
Cerrone was a decade older with twice as many fights when he faced Till and maybe that would have also contributed to the conclusion of the fight.
Many ignore age and the number of fights when it comes to MMA, skill is obviously more important than age but age also matter alike other quantifiable aspects such as reach and height.
At 35 years of age, wonderboy is at the top of his game and a decade older than his opponent Till who is 25 years old.
Wonderboy has clearly attained the saturation of his skill development and will be facing a young and evolving Till.
This fight can speak a lot about Wonderboy's present capabilities and can be critical in determining his future inside the division.
#4 Counterpunching Strategy
Wonderboy is a quicker and precise counterpuncher who throws combinations and goes back and set up a big shot.
Till's counter punching is very similar to that of Conor McGregor, where he goes one step backward and counters with a big left hand.
Till will have to be the one to close the distance with his long jab and be explosive like Tyron Woodley and knock wonderboy down.
He also has this ability to dodge kicks and come back with a counter, this can be put to effective use against Wonderboy.
On the other hand, Wonderboy has a tendency to throw the counter and follow it up with a stealthy leg kick as he exits the exchange, which can catch Till.
In conclusion, the counterpunching strategy will be critical for Till in beating Wonderboy's Karate.
#3 Control of distance
Both Wonderboy and Till are great at managing distance and range but Till has the reach advantage.
Till is slightly better at it and retreats backs to a safe distance after closing the distance, he is also quick to follow up with shots after connecting or if there's an opening.
Wonderboy thrives at outside fighting and is known for his excellent use of sneaky kicks from long range and is never in a range to be hit.
Whereas Till operates in the medium range somewhere around where Muay Thai fighters and a few boxers fight.
If the game remains outside range, wonderboy should have the advantage. But Till being a better boxer will try to keep it in the pocket and try to slip and counter where he has the advantage.
The best scenario for Till is to close the distance and keep wonderboy pressed against the cage and pick him apart.
If he succeeds to keep him wonderboy against the cage he has a good chance of finishing him, but wonderboy constantly move and change angles inside the octagon and it's going to be difficult for Till to keep him near the cage.
#2 Master of the lead leg kick
Wonderboy has clearly developed mastery in his style and one of the most accomplished strikers in UFC, but people tend to forgot how good he is just because of the two Woodley fights.
Apart from Woodley, only Matt Brown has a history of coming out of the octagon with his hands high after facing wonderboy.
What makes him special? It's his Karate acumen, he is the master of the sneaky lead leg kick and has a lot of other tricky tools in his arsenal.
His karate style with hands low standing sideways coupled with his movement and change of angles is hard to get past for any opponent.
Jhonny Hendricks sought to get past him on Fight Night Las Vegas and got hit with a front roundhouse kick.
Lead leg kicks are one of the sneakiest weapons in martial arts, and when the opponent get too obsessed with it, the back leg comes into action.
Wonderboy's kicks are going to be very crucial in this fight and Darren Till should watch out for it.
#1 The Liverpool Effect
The Gorilla is arguably the biggest prospect for UFC in Europe after the ' Notorious' Conor McGregor.
The People of Liverpool love their sports and UFC made this event happen in Liverpool so their hometown hero can win in front of his fans.
The crowd inside the arena is very critical in determining the fight, It can pressurize the fighters, it can energize them and it can also corrupt the judges.
Personally, I don't have faith in UK judge after 'Bisping vs Henderson' and hope the fight doesn't go before the judges for a decision.
But one thing I have faith is on the fact that Liverpool fans will explode if Liverpool beats Real Madrid and Till beats wonderboy.