Robert Whittaker carried all the way to the UFC middleweight championship. The former champion is set to make another run at the title, he’s rounding right back into form.
Whittaker (21-5 MMA, 12-3 UFC) dragged Darren Till into another one of his wars of attrition in the main event of UFC on ESPN 14, and once again he made it pay off.
Whittaker earned scores of 48-47 across the board to take a unanimous decision at Flash Forum on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
“I had to really adapt on the go,” Whittaker said after his seventh career decision victory. “It went his way, then my way, then his way, then my way.”
Till (18-3-1 MMA, 6-3-1 UFC) had his best round in the first, as he dropped Whittaker early with a perfectly placed elbow, then went in to try to finish things off. Whittaker, nearly always a slow starter, got back to his feet and back into the fight. While Till clearly won the opening round, it was just as clear Whittaker was finding his range in the round’s final minute.
That translated into a big comeback of a round as Whittaker, who out-struck Till in all five rounds, had a 40-5 advantage in the second and dropped him with a right along the way. The output slowed a bit in the third, but Whittaker again got the best of the exchanges.
The fourth was the slowest round of the fight from an action perspective. But Till got the most noteworthy exchange, landing a series of heavy shots about two minutes into the round, which stopped Whittaker’s progress.
The shot by @darrentill2 that dropped Whittaker in the first round 😬 #UFCFightIsland3 pic.twitter.com/IMrgpK8fgi
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 26, 2020
After a timeout by referee Herb Dean in the final minute to check on Till’s eye, Whittaker likely sealed the flight with a frenetic final minute in which he scored two takedowns and threw punches all the way to the horn.
The New Zealand native now has won nine of his past 10 fights, while Till has dropped three of his past four.
Complete UFC on ESPN 14 results:
Robert Whittaker def. Darren Till via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
Mauricio Rua def. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Fabricio Werdum def. Alexander Gustafsson via submission (armbar) — Round 1, 2:30
Carla Esparza def. Marina Rodriguez via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
Paul Craig def. Gadzhimurad Antigulov via submission (triangle choke) – Round 1, 2:06
Alex Oliveira def. Peter Sobotta via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Khamzat Chimaev def. Rhys McKee via TKO (ground-and-pound) – Round 1, 3:09
Francisco Trinaldo def. Jai Herbert via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:30
Jesse Ronson def. Nicolas Dalby via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:48
Tom Aspinall def. Jake Collier via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 0:45
Movsar Evloev def. Mike Grundy via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Tanner Boser def. Raphael Pessoa via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 2:36
Pannie Kianzad def. Bethe Correia via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Ramazan Emeev def. Niklas Stolze via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Nathaniel Wood def. John Castaneda via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)