Ben Askren has been targeting Darren Till on social media, and has talked about facing the winner of the latter’s fight Saturday with Jorge Masvidal. But, according to Till, “Funky” still has more work to do before they battle in the Octagon. Is the rising British star right?
Till will face Masvidal in the main event of UFC London. The fight will mark the first time Till has fought since he was submitted by now former, welterweight champ, Tyron Woodley last September.
Well, following Askren’s controversial, win over Robbie Lawler at UFC 235, the decorated wrestler said he wants to battle the winner of Till – Masvidal next (rather than rematching Lawler again). In fact, Askren is in London this week and will reportedly attend Saturday’s card.
So, due to this, and tweets Askren and Till have exchanged, the latter was asked about the possibility of fighting the American next. Till had this to say in response (quotes via MMA Fighting):
“He can call out, but he’s gotta work his way up the ranks as well,” Till said. “It all depends on who I want to fight next — not him. He only has one fight in the UFC. He needs to work his way up.”
“I don’t give a f*ck,” Till said, while discussing his back-and-forth with Askren. “It’s not personal to me. It’s all business. So, my attention is on the welterweight gold. He gets a bit of attention like any welterweight gets attention. Obviously, Masvidal gets the most attention. It’s just business as usual.”
Is Till on point here? Does Askren still need to record another win or two in the UFC before securing a bout with Till?
Well, if you’re from the camp that really wants to see Askren and Lawler run-it-back, and don’t think much of what Askren’s accomplished outside of the UFC, then you might think yes. Further, if Till scores a win over Jorge Masvidal on Saturday, then one could argue Till has little to gain by facing “Funky”. Askren’s currently ranked #6 and Till’s #3.
But, if you put stock in the fact Askren won titles with both Bellator and ONE (as you should), and consider that he’s never lost, a case can definitely be made for a bout with Till. Not only that, but Askren has a comparable social media following to Till (the latter has more followers on Instagram but less on Twitter). So, it’s not like we’re talking about a fighter no one has heard of, and the fact Askren is attending UFC London is another sign the promotion is pushing him.
Then, there’s also the current state of the welterweight title picture to consider. Till already has defeated the #4 ranked Stephen Thompson, and Woodley is currently ranked #1. The #2 positioned Colby Covington is expected to face the new champ, Kamaru Usman next. So, if Till wins Saturday, there doesn’t appear to be any options for him in the top five, other than Rafael dos Anjos.
It will be interesting to see what happens here. But, unless the UFC is set on Askren – Lawler 2, don’t dismiss Askren – Till just yet.