Tyron Woodley defends UFC title, hands Darren Till 1st loss
By SCHUYLER DIXON, AP Sports Writer
DALLAS (AP) — Tyron Woodley had the crowd buzzing instead of booing in his latest UFC welterweight title defense.
The champion who keeps on winning likely will avoid the wrath of UFC President Dana White this time as well, while Woodley waits for his next opponent.
Woodley sent Darren Till to the canvas with a right hand early in the second round, then repeatedly punched and elbowed his English opponent in the face and head before finally winning by submission at UFC 228 on Saturday night.
It was the fourth title defense for the 36-year-old Woodley, and first in more than a year after he was roundly booed and even criticized by White in his previous win in the 170-pound mixed martial arts division.
“Winning conquers everything if you really think about it,” Woodley said. “As long as you keep winning, you keep building up your stats and people go back and look at your record, at the end of the day, they’re going to recognize you as the greatest of all time.
“That’s why I’ve been so quiet. I didn’t overly celebrate after the fight. I just went out there and got the job done.”
Till (17-1-1) lost for the first time in his first title fight.
“Backstage, I was just too calm,” said the 25-year-old from Liverpool, England. “I’m a weird person. Sometimes I’ll warm up hard. And then sometimes I’m just relaxed. I don’t have the same type of ritual for every fight. This time it cost me. In my eyes, it cost me everything.”
Perhaps responding to the boos from his plodding win over Demian Maia in a five-round unanimous decision last summer in California, Woodley (19-3-1) came out aggressively before settling into a more conservative approach for most of the first round.
A right hand early in the second dropped Till, and with Woodley on top of his opponent, the crowd screamed for him to finish it with the repeated blows while Till desperately tried to stay in the fight.
With his neck bent in a headlock and a strained look on his face, Till started tapping Woodley’s hip as the referee stepped in to stop the fight at 4:19 of the second. Woodley had Till pinned for about three minutes before the fight was called.
“Till is a tough kid,” Woodley said. “I’m not surprised he survived my ground and pound.”
After White criticized his win over Maia, Woodley demanded an apology a few days later while saying he had injured his shoulder in the fight. He eventually had arthroscopic surgery.
White declared that “nobody wants to see Tyron Woodley fight” after the Maia bout and said Georges St. Pierre would get the next shot at middleweight champion Michael Bisping instead of Woodley.
St. Pierre has since beaten Bisping and vacated that title, while Colby Covington beat former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos for the interim 170-pound belt in Chicago in June. Woodley dismissed Covington’s spot as the “boo-boo belt.”
Now the question is whether Woodley will face Covington.
“I’m not saying I am going to fight him because I don’t feel like he deserves my platform right now,” Woodley said. “He had a chance to be here. He ditched if you want to be honest and frank.”
Till struggled to stay under the required weight in previous fights, but never got a chance to show whether he had the conditioning to go with it after making weight at 169 pounds and defiantly flashing a pair of obscene gestures at the weigh-in.
Once the fight started, Till was conservative, sitting back while waiting to see how Woodley would attack. There were a few boos when the fighters were locked in bear hugs on the fence twice in the first round.
“He had all the pressure,” Woodley said. “When you’re undefeated, you don’t know. I’ve been in that position, 10-0, rising star. Everybody thought I was the hottest thing on the block. Got knocked out. It broke my heart. I never thought I was going to lose.”
Jessica Andrade (19-6) knocked out Karolina Kowalkiewicz (13-3) at 1:58 of the first round in a women’s 115-pound non-title fight in the co-main event.
Andrade’s strawweight win replaced a women’s flyweight championship fight that was canceled when title holder Nicco Montano was hospitalized for an undisclosed health issue. Montano was supposed to face top-ranked contender Valentina Shevchenko.