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Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Darren Till can light up Liverpool by beating Wonderboy

British UFC star can overcome weight issues to overcome Thompson

Darren Till kicks Bojan Velickovic in the face
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This bank holiday weekend will go down in Liverpool's sporting history, and it may not just be for football reasons. 

The day after Liverpool's Champions League final, the UFC holds its first event in the city with Darren Till the headline act. The so-far little-known Scouser has the potential to become revered as much as the legendary sporting names sung from the Kop. 

Till became one of the most talked-about fighters in MMA after he destroyed long-time contender Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone inside one round in October, prompting the UFC to reward him with an event in his own city and an opponent in Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson who is one of the sport's greatest strikers. 

Till's journey to the top could be a movie in itself. After getting stabbed in a nightclub as a teenager he decided to leave Liverpool behind and relocate to MMA mecca Brazil, where he earned a living as a sparring partner while learning his trade from some of the world's toughest fighters. 

Six years and 17 fights later, Till remains undefeated and could be just one win from a world title shot, but this is by far his toughest challenge as Thompson is world class. 

After a kickboxing career that yielded 57 wins and no defeats, Thompson has been a big hit in the UFC, although he was twice denied the welterweight title after a draw and a loss to champion Tyron Woodley. 

But he has been beating top talent for years and he sees Till as just a stepping stone on his way back to another title shot. 

There's nothing between them in the betting, with both fighters available at around evens, and it comes down to whether you trust proven veteran Thompson or unknown force Till to emerge victorious. 

The whole event was in jeopardy on Saturday when Till missed weight by 3.5 pounds and although Thompson agreed to the fight going ahead at a catchweight it's anyone's guess how much Till will have been affected. 

Thompson, by contrast, was relaxed and seems to be having a great time on Merseyside. 

Despite all the chaos, Till has a will and intensity that could drive him to victory - think Tony Bellew turned up a notch. He is effective as a pressure fighter as if he can stay out of range of Wonderboy's kicks he possesses vicious punches and elbows to end the fight at any time - especially with thousands of Scousers roaring him on. 

Thompson is ten years older at 35, and he may no longer have the energy to fend of a young bull like Till for 25 minutes. 

D Till
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The whole event was in jeopardy on Saturday when Till missed weight by 3.5 pounds
E.W. Terms
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