Darren Till Made UFC Liverpool A Reality, But Don’t Forget Those Who Also Paved The Way
The UFC is heading to Liverpool for the first time on May 27 and local man Darren Till looks set to headline the fight card taking place at the Echo Arena.
Till’s sudden burst into the limelight in October last year came at UFC Fight Night Gdansk when he defeated UFC legend Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. The Liverpudlian’s impressive performance and magnetic charisma won over fans in a flash and as it stands today he’s considered one of the hottest up and coming talents on the active roster.
Till took a period of time out of the spotlight following his win in Poland, but two weeks ago the UFC confirmed his return to the Octagon in epic fashion when they announced that the promotion would be heading to his hometown of Liverpool for the first time in their 25 year history.
Till’s surge into the spotlight was undoubtedly the final piece of the puzzle for the UFC making a long-awaited trip to one of the UK’s most famous cities, but it would be naïve to say it was the sole reason for the UFC circus rolling heading to Liverpool in May.
Way before Till’s rapid rise in profile last year, UK promotion Cage Warriors had hosted no fewer than six events (eight if you count ‘The Academy’ shows) in the city and their seventh show took place just last month at the Echo Arena. One must also tip the hat to Shinobi MMA Fighting Championships who were also instrumental in providing a lot of the local talent a platform to compete on, they know operate under the guise of Cage Warriors Academy North West after agreeing a merger in February 2017.
Cage Warriors’ history with the Echo Arena venue stretches back to Cage Warriors 57 in July 2013 when a whole host of recognisable names such as Paul Daley, Danny Roberts, Saul Rogers, Matt Inman, Chris Fishgold, Jack Mason and Marcin Wrzosek all fought on the card.
The promotion then returned in May 2014 for Cage Warriors 68 with Roberts headlining against another future UFC fighter Jimi Wallhead, but perhaps more importantly it was the first time that both Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann competed inside the Echo Arena.
Nobody knew it at the time, but these two and Fishgold would generate a buoyant MMA market in Liverpool and those fighters combined would create several memorable moments from 2016 to the present day.
People that were at Cage Warriors 78 in October 2016 describe the scenes of Pimblett and Fishgold celebrating their world title fight wins as comparable to Conor McGregor’s win over Diego Brandao at the UFC’s infamous event in Dublin, Ireland in 2015.
While events that followed, Cage Warriors 82 in April 2017, Cage Warriors 88 in October 2017, and Cage Warriors 90 in February 2018 didn’t deliver quite the collective joy as that evening did, all were well attended and the atmospheres surpassed other events held across the region due to the drawing power and local admiration of Pimblett, McCann and Fishgold.
Last weekend at Cage Warriors 92 ‘Super Saturday,’ the promotion announced that Pimblett had signed a new multi-fight deal and would be headlining Cage Warriors 96 taking place on September 1 in Liverpool.
With the UFC Liverpool fight card filling up quickly, right here, right now, it’s looking less and less likely that McCann, Fishgold or even another local favourite Lee Chadwick will get the nod for UFC Liverpool. Regardless, don’t doubt for one second the part that they and so many of the other local fighters played in raising the profile of MMA in Liverpool and their contribution to bringing the UFC to the Echo Arena.
Till is a star in the making and was the catalyst for making UFC Liverpool a reality in 2018, but Pimblett and co. laid down the foundations in the past few years to evidence the fact that the UFC could pull off something special on May 27.