Darren Till insists he'll still be champ

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With the recent announcement of Darren Till vs. Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244 causing a bevy of opinions on social media, I find myself among those who question the logic behind this matchmaking.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not at all surprised, nor against, Till testing the waters in his middleweight debut. I just believe there are more reasonable options than throwing him in there with the division’s most recent title challenger (even if Till is the one who insisted).

Sure, Gastelum is probably one of the smallest middleweights on the roster as his appearance has, for whatever reason, earned him a spot as a perennial underdog of sorts. But when you consider that Gastelum is one of the leading power punchers at 185 pounds (knocking down five of  his last six opponents), then I’m not sure he fits the bill for a returning young fighter who is both coming off a knockout loss and on a losing skid.

And while I don’t like to cry over spilled milk, I do think it’s OK to disagree so long as you bring some constructive suggestions to the table. So, with that in mind, here are three fights that would’ve made more sense for Till’s next fight.

*****

Brad Tavares

Record: 17-5 MMA, 12-5 UFC
Weight class: Middleweight
Why it made more sense: Again, I’m all for Till testing the middleweight waters, but I believe a matchup with Brad Tavareswould’ve made sense for the Liverpudlian’s return.

Tavares, who has been away from action for the past year due to injury, appears to be training full time again in Las Vegas, as I assume he’ll be looking to get back into the octagon soon. The Hawaiian more than earned his way to a high-profile spot last summer, where Tavares lost a unanimous decision to Israel Adesanya.

The 31-year-old veteran would be far from an easy test for Till, but Tavares is a respectable name who carries a well rounded style that I think would clash with the Englishman in a fan-friendly manner. Tavares, although he’s both a heavy-handed and technical striker, is not necessarily known for being an explosive finisher or submission specialist, per se – which I believe are the worst type of matchups for Till to face at this stage of his career.

Tavares also has expressed his desire to perform across the pond in past campaigns to fight Michael Bisping, so why not pick that torch back up and take it to the next generation of English talent?

Tim Boetsch

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Record: 21-13 MMA, 12-12 UFC
Weight class: Middleweight
Why it made more sense: In sticking with the spirit of a move up in weight, I couldn’t help but notice that Tim Boetsch isn’t booked.

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