Two left hands and a hush fell over the partisan crowd. Don’t look now but Jorge Masvidal is back in the UFC welterweight title picture.
The veteran Masvidal (33-13), fresh off a 17-month layoff, knocked former title challenger Darren Till out cold in Round 2 of their main event bout at UFC Fight Night at the O2 Arena in London.
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Not only did Masvidal shake off a two-fight losing skid, he sent the rising British star Till (17-2-1) to a devastating second straight defeat of his own just six months removed from a one-sided loss to then-champion Tyron Woodley.
Till, 26, appeared emotionally distraught while sitting on his stool in the Octagon after being woken up as the 34-year-old Masvidal shook off a first-round knockdown and slowly began to figure Till out behind a varied and feint-heavy attack.
“Back to business, I need that belt wrapped around my waist,” Masvidal said. “That dude only has one loss and that was to the champ. Dana White, I sold this fight so get behind me. I may not have a country behind me but I have a whole world. Let’s get that belt.”
The fight was wild from the opening second as Masvidal ran across the cage and inadvertently landed a front kick to the groin of Till. As soon as the action was restarted, the southpaw Till closed distance and dropped Masvidal with a left cross to the side of the face.
“Props to Darren because he caught me in the beginning,” Masvidal said. “I didn’t even see what the f— he hit me with. I was just on my butt and I wanted to kill him after he dropped me. The first round was his and I couldn’t catch his timing.”
To his credit, Masvidal rallied to stay in the fight behind his boxing and inside leg kicks. Although Till was clearly landing the bigger shots with his left hand, he was only connecting on one at a time as Masvidal used his patience against him and began to flurry.
Midway through Round 2, Masvidal’s adjusted rhythm began to cause Till the kind of problems that made the finish possible. Masvidal turned southpaw and floated a jab with his right hand before coming right back with a looping left that appeared to knock Till unconscious upon impact.
As Till was falling, Masvidal landed a second left hook. Referee Marc Goddard leaped in to stop the action at 3:05 after the fall caused Till to hit the back of his head on the canvas.
“I don’t throw it often so I knew he never saw me throw that and in no way he was practicing for that,” Masvidal said.
The victory was Masvidal’s first in more than two years since he knocked out Donald Cerrone in January 2017. He used his recent time off to heal following two straight defeats and devoted more time to his family along with filming a reality TV show in Mexico.
“I come from a very humble place in front of all of you,” Masvidal told the London crowd. “This is amazing, this is mind-blowing. Whether you booed or you cheered, England showed me so much love in the streets. Couldn’t ask for a better opponent. This guy is tough. Damn, he’s f—ing good, man. He’s only 24, England. I’m 34. He’s going to get so much better. He’s going to be a tiger, he’s going to be a young bull so don’t start dissing him.
“I love the sport and I ain’t going nowhere. I’m fighting for the belt this year. I’m here to fight the best in the world and that’s whoever is the champion right now.”