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It seems like with every new UFC fight card, I’m telling my friends, “I cannot wait for this card; it’s such a good card!” And then I’m often reminded, “You said that last week.” Which is true, but not for no reason.
The UFC, since last year and continuing to this year, has been on absolute fire bringing fans exciting matchups from top to bottom, and UFC FIGHT NIGHT 174 was no exception.
I was especially looking forward to the main event at middleweight between Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker and Darren “The Gorilla” Till. This fight was important to the middleweight division because, on one side you have former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (Bobby Knuckles as some have nicknamed him), whose last fight resulted in him getting knocked out, thus losing his middleweight belt.
Then on the other side you have Till, who, while still fairly young in his MMA career, has already accomplished a lot in the welterweight division, now looking to make a statement by beating the former champ of another.
This was one of those fights where I did not want to see either guy lose, not only because they’re both fierce competitors, but because they both have such likable personalities and I always want to see them succeed.
The fight could not have turned out any better. Even though Till lost, I don’t think his stock went down at all. All five rounds were filled with exciting technical striking as the two fighters played a gripping game of dangerous chess.
I got nervous in the first round when Till dropped Whittaker with an elbow, worried the former champ would be stopped early, but Whittaker, being the warrior he is, recovered quickly, not only getting through the rest of the round, but returning the favor by dropping Till in the second with a right hand.
The last three rounds were beautiful to watch because you could see each man carefully calculating how to regain the upper hand. In an attempt to secure the fight, Whittaker’s high IQ was on full display as he went for a few takedowns late in the fifth after Till had already cut him with an elbow in the previous round, causing a lot of bleeding.
In the end, all three judges scored the fight the same, giving Whittaker three rounds to Till’s two, putting The Reaper back on track after his previous loss. Since the match was so close, Till will not lose much momentum either. It will be interesting to see how the UFC will decide who Whittaker takes on next.
He definitely deserves his rematch against Israel Adesanya for the middleweight belt, but it also makes sense to have him fight Jared Cannonier to decide who will face the winner of Adesanya vs. Costa. Whichever the case may be, the middleweight division is looking really exciting right now.