Agree with the verdict or not, it can only be a boon for Darren Till’s career.
“The Gorilla” remained undefeated and continued his climb on the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight ladder with a contentious unanimous decision over two-time title contender Stephen Thompson in the UFC Fight Night 130 main event before 8,520 fans on Sunday at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. All three cageside judges saw it for Till: 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46. Of the 25 media members sampled by MMADecisions.com, 22 scored it for Thompson.
The two men finished in a statistical dead heat. According to FightMetric data, Till outlanded “Wonderboy” by narrow margins in significant strikes (38-30) and total strikes (40-31) in the competitive five-round affair. However, he accounted for the only knockdown of the fight and did so when the spotlight was brightest, bringing the crowd to a boil with an overhand left in the fifth round.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night “Thompson vs. Till,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
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Darren Till vs. Kamaru Usman: Since returning from a shoulder injury that required surgery and resulted in a 19-month layoff, Till has gone 4-0 against increasingly difficult opposition. His win over Thompson followed victories against Donald Cerrone, Bojan Velickovic and Jessin Ayari, leaving him with earshot of a crack at the welterweight championship. One potential fly in the ointment: Till has missed weight in two of those four appearances. Usman’s stock has never been higher. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 21 winner owns a perfect 8-0 record inside the Octagon and last competed at UFC Fight Night 129, where he cruised to a unanimous decision over Demian Maia on May 19.
Neil Magny vs. Donald Cerrone-Leon Edwards winner: Magny keeps plugging along at 170 pounds, where he has established himself as one of the UFC’s most consistent welterweights. The 30-year-old Elevation Fight Team representative passed his latest test with ease in the co-main event, as he disposed of promotional newcomer Craig White with a first-round knee strike and follow-up punches. Magny has rattled off back-to-back victories since he submitted to an arm-triangle choke from Rafael dos Anjos in September. Cerrone and Edwards will lock horns in the UFC Fight Night 132 headliner on June 23.
Makwan Amirkhani vs. Enrique Barzola: In his first appearance in more than a year, Amirkhani escaped his three-round battle opposite Jason Knight with a split decision. Scores were 29-28 and 29-28 for Amirkhani, 30-27 for Knight. The victorious Finn withstood a pair of knockdowns in the first round, turned the tide with takedowns in the second and staggered Knight with a right hand in the third. Amirkhani has compiled a 4-1 record since joining the UFC roster in 2015. On a four-fight winning streak, Barzola last fought at UFC Fight Night 129 on May 19, when he pocketed a unanimous decision over Brandon Davis in Rio de Janeiro.
Elias Theodorou vs. Derek Brunson-Antonio Carlos Jr. winner: Theodorou put further distance between himself and a unanimous decision defeat to Brad Tavares a little less than a year ago, as he outpointed Trevor Smith across three rounds on the undercard. “The Ultimate Fighter Nations” winner and Tristar Gym export engaged Smith at close range, racking up points with knees to the head and body, uppercuts and occasional elbows. Theodorou, 29, now sits at 7-2 in the UFC, decision losses to Tavares and Thiago Santos his only missteps. Brunson and Carlos Jr. have been booked for an Aug. 4 showdown at UFC 227.
Stephen Thompson vs. Rafael dos Anjos-Colby Covington loser: For the third time in four fights, Thompson failed to procure enough favor from the cageside judges. His unanimous decision loss to Till leaves him in a state of temporary limbo at 170 pounds, and one has to wonder if, at age 35, his best days are indeed behind him. Thompson has not posted consecutive victories since he pieced together a seven-fight run between May 25, 2013 and June 18, 2016 -- a tear that led to two unsuccessful bids to unseat current champion Tyron Woodley. Dos Anjos and Covington will square off for the interim welterweight title in the UFC 225 co-headliner on June 9.