Darren Till says that he absolutely will return to the UFC one day.
In recent years, Till has struggled inside the UFC, winning just once in his previous six fights. Even so, Till remained a ranked fighter and well-liked star in the promotion, so it caught MMA fans by surprise when in March, Till asked for and was granted his release from the promotion. Now, seven months later, “The Gorilla” revealed exactly what happened.
“What happened is, I lost me fight [against Dricus du Plessis at UFC 282], I spoke to Hunter [Campbell, UFC Chief Business Officier], he said to me, ‘Till, I still believe you’ve got the tools. You just need a little bit of rearranging,’” Till said on The MMA Hour. “I said, ‘Hunter, give me some time to think what I want to do with the future, because I’m still young.’ Which, I know I am. I’ve still got me prime years in me. He said OK. I flew off to Thailand, had a good long think, and I said, ‘Hunter, can I have some time away from the UFC to get s*** in order? Stop fighting, worrying about paychecks and this and that and injuries. Can I?’
“I’ve always had the most straight relationship with Dana [White] and Hunter. I’ve said what I’ve thought and I’ve always been straight with them. I’ve never come out in the media and slagged them once. OK, sometimes you’ll talk about fighter pay and this and that, but if I’ve ever had a problem, I’ve always said it directly to Dana. And that’s the approach I had with them, and the approach they give me back. They said, ‘Till, we’re behind you because you’ve always been that way with us and we’ll be like that with you.’ I said, ‘Thank you, Hunter. When I’m good and ready, you’ll see me back in the UFC.’ Because it’s not money that drives me. I just want to be a good f****** fighter. And I know in the past I’ve said I want to be great, but I’ve got to get back to being good first.
“That’s what it was. I just wanted some time away. Time away from pressure just to think. And obviously, all this boxing malarkey has come along now … and we’re going to have a stab at this for the next two, three years, maybe. That’s just the way it was.”
At one point, Till was one of the very best fighters in the world, even challenging for the UFC welterweight title against Tyron Woodley at UFC 228. That fight signaled the start of his current bad run though, as Till lost his next fight to Jorge Masvidal and then moved up to middleweight, where’s he 1-3. Now free from the UFC, Till says that he is technically allowed to pursue MMA fights with other organizations, and that there have been offers, but that’s not currently on his radar. Instead, Till has his sights set on boxing.
“I sort of made a little promise, but not promise,” Till said when asked if he was free to fight in MMA. “I said I don’t want to go off straight away and do MMA. My heads a little battered and I just sort of want to be released and see what me options are. That was eight months ago. I’ve had some crazy offers since I left, by big MMA organizations, and I turned them all down. I’ve been in talks with some of them, but again, I wouldn’t go down that disrespectful route of starting straightaway with the PFL.
“I feel like I’ve done it the right way. … What’s the point of saying to Hunter, ‘I need some time off to relieve the pressure,’ and then go sign with the PFL or Bellator or ONE or something like that? It just makes no sense.
“I haven’t accepted nothing up until now. I will be accepting, most probably, the offer that Misfits is going to give me to punch Mike Perry all over the ring.”
Till and “Platinum” have a long rivalry that dates back to their days as welterweights in the UFC, and since Till’s release, the two have teased eventually fighting one another. Perry is currently scheduled to face Eddie Alvarez at BKFC 56 in December, but Till’s plan is to have his first boxing match later this year, setting up the eventual Perry showdown for 2024.
“I’m trying to compete now, in November, December,” Till said. “Get a fight, whatever. Just get me toes wet. And then I will be looking for the Perry fight next year. I want to make a big thing of it. That’s it. Let’s see who can grab that up. More than likely, Misfits will want to make that fight, but that fight can be made anywhere, anyhow. It will sell no matter what. I think it will be massive here in the U.K.”
After that, Till is keeping his options open. Though he doesn’t have any immediate plans to return to MMA, Till did admit that he would do so if a life-changing amount of money was offered to him. Barring that, though, boxing is where Till’s current focus lies.
But once that’s run its course, Till said he does want to finish his journey back where he started it: In the octagon.
“Yes. 100 percent,” Till said when asked if he’ll fight in the UFC again. “I want to go back to MMA, obviously.
“A few years down the line, get back and make another f****** run at it. I want make a lot of money, but in the UFC it wouldn’t be about the money. I want to make some good f****** fights in there again. That’s what I want to do.”