Dricus du Plessis thinks that Darren Till had some unrealistic expectations when he decided to join the UFC‘s middleweight division.
“Stillknocks” is set to take on Till on the main card of UFC 282, which will be the UFC’s last Pay-Per-View event of the year. The matchup is a significant moment for du Plessis, who’s gone 3-0 since arriving in the promotion in 2020 but was on the prelims for his last two fights.
The 28-year-old is riding a five-fight win streak overall, while his opponent Till is currently on a two-fight skid. “The Gorilla” challenged for the welterweight title as an undefeated fighter in 2018 but has only managed one win after coming up short in that title bid.
“When he started out, he was extremely motivated,” Du Plessis said. “I think he was a force at 170. He was a big 170, he was imposing his style on people. Once you get to the big boys at middleweight, it’s a completely different story.
“Speaking as somebody who fought 170 and then came to 185 myself, that was harder work than actually cutting the weight. Because I had to take a very long time – I took almost a year off competing completely to become a one hundred percent 185 fighter. I didn’t want to be a welterweight fighting at middleweight. I had to become a middleweight.”
Du Plessis moved up to middleweight the same year as Till, but that was only after the South African claimed the KSW welterweight title and lost the belt in an immediate rematch with Roberto Soldić.
“Stillknocks” has yet to lose at middleweight, while Till has only fought on three occasions and is 1-2 in the weight class overall. The 29-year-old had previously missed weight ahead of his welterweight bout with Stephen Thompson, and du Plessis thinks Till was hoping things might be more relaxed at middleweight.
“That’s where I think he messed up. I think he saw the move up to 185 as ‘Oh, I can let it down. I don’t have to eat as perfect. Those sessions where I really don’t feel like it I don’t have to do the extra work, because my weight’s gonna be fine.’ When you’re cutting that weight, you almost feel obligated because if you don’t go do the session, you’re not gonna eat. I think he took the move up as almost a easier route, and that’s not the case at all.”
The middleweight contest between Du Plessis and Till is one of the highlights of a UFC 282 main card that experienced a major shakeup when the light heavyweight title fight between Jiří Procházka and Glover Teixeira fell through due to a Procházka injury.
“Denisa” elected to vacate his belt rather than hold up the division, and the new UFC 282 main event will see former champion Jan Błachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev battle for the vacant title.
What do you make of Du Plessis’ idea that Darren Till expected middleweight to be an easier division for him?