Darren Till’s measured approach against Stephen Thompson paid off in spades in Liverpool on Sunday night as the home favourite edged the contest over five rounds.
The fight, which was changed to a catchweight bout after Till missed the welterweight limit, was the main event of UFC Fight Night 130 at Echo Arena.
With a packed crowd cheering their man on, Till set about his job coolly and calmly, in contrast to the high-octane aggression he has displayed at times in the past.
The first two rounds passed without much incident, with both men traded a few blows and kicks, Till the bigger man and Thompson the quicker.
— UFC (@ufc) May 27, 2018
Till’s punches started to land more in the third, but Thompson landed with a straight right of his own.
Till complained of an eye poke in the final minute, before a string of big punches found their mark.
— UFC (@ufc) May 27, 2018
Asking the crowd for support at the start of the fourth, Till pushed forward, but it was Thompson who landed a big left, as Till appeared to start to tire.
With no one quite sure who was winning the fight, the fifth round began with Till upping his aggression. The Liverpudlian landed a few clean jabs, and then sent Thompson to the floor with a big left.
He was able to get back on his feet quickly, however, and even landed a nice left hand shortly after.
In the final minute, Till dropped his hands and tried to bait Thompson into making a move, but he didn’t take the bait, and the fight ended with both men still on their feet.
Till scaled the fence to celebrate, and the judges seemed to agree with his view of the fight, awarding him an unanimous-decision victory: 48-47, 49-46 and 49-46.
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) May 27, 2018
The result left some shocked, with some suggesting the judges had been influenced by Till’s vociferous home support.
This is what you get when you give the lower-ranked fighter the fight in his hometown.
— Jeff Wagenheim (@jeffwagenheim) May 27, 2018
Judges clearly were effected by the fan reactions. 49-46 is a terrible scorecard
— Jason Floyd (@Jason_Floyd) May 27, 2018
Regardless of the social media chatter, the result gave the beleaguered Liverpool fans something to smile about after their miserable Champions League weekend.
Other main card results
Neil Magny def. Craig White via TKO (knee, punches) – Round 1, 4:32
Arnold Allen def. Mads Burnell via submission (front choke) – Round 3, 2:41
Makwan Amirkhani def. Jason Knight via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
Claudio Silva def. Nordine Taleb via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:31
Darren Stewart def. Eric Spicely via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 1:47