In what was by all accounts a star-making performance, Darren Till obliterated a dyed-in-the-wool action hero and staked his claim as a legitimate contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s welterweight division.
The undefeated Englishman improved to 16-0-1 and wowed a crowd of 11,138, as he put away Donald Cerrone with punches in the first round of their UFC Fight Night 118 main event on Saturday at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland. Cerrone wilted 4:20 into Round 1 of a fight that was never competitive, falling prey to one of the young lions at 170 pounds.
Till walked down “Cowboy” with methodical purpose, setting the tone with a series of penetrating left hands. The finish was a thing of beauty. He buckled Cerrone’s knees with a sharp two-punch combination, backed him to the fence with a short elbow strike and then buried him with a ferocious punching volley that had the Jackson-Wink MMA star ducking for cover on all fours. Till joined Anthony Pettis, Rafael dos Anjos and Jorge Masvidal as the only men who have stopped Cerrone with strikes.
In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night 118 “Cerrone vs. Till,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Related » UFC Fight Night 118 By the Numbers
Darren Till vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio-Mike Perry winner: His stock on the rise, Till has rattled off three straight wins since he fought onetime Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Nicolas Dalby to a majority draw in October 2015. The 24-year-old Team Kaobon rep dispatched Cerrone with surprising ease, following decision victories over Jessin Ayari and Bojan Velickovic with a near-flawless performance against a longtime contender. Perry will square off with Ponzinibbio at UFC on Fox 26 in December, with the winner emerging as a logical choice to serve as Till’s next opponent.
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Tecia Torres-Michelle Waterson winner: Kowalkiewicz rebounded from back-to-back losses to UFC women’s strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and perennial contender Claudia Gadelha, doing so at the expense of Octagon newcomer Jodie Esquibel in the three-round co-main event. According to preliminary FightMetric data, she outlanded Esquibel by a 127-65 margin in significant strikes and 142-66 in total strikes. All three judges gave Kowalkiewicz all three rounds, as she overwhelmed Esquibel with pace and output. Torres and Waterson will collide at UFC 218 on Dec. 2 in Detroit.
Ramazan Emeev vs. Thiago Santos-Jack Hermansson winner: Emeev was impressive at times and pedestrian at others, but the former M-1 Global champion walked away from his UFC debut with a convincing unanimous decision against Sam Alvey. He tore into Alvey -- a short-notice replacement for the injured Trevor Smith -- with right hands and stifled him in the clinch, incorporating power punches to the head and body when opportunities arose. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Emeev, who has won 13 of his last 14 bouts. Santos and Hermansson have been booked opposite one another at UFC Fight Night 119 on Oct. 28 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Andre Fili vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov-Sheymon da Silva Moraes winner: While Fili has yet to fulfill the potential many saw in him when he joined the UFC roster in 2013, he kept his name in circulation at 145 pounds with a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter 22” finalist Artem Lobov on the undercard. The Team Alpha Male rep has now alternated wins and losses in eight consecutive appearances. Fili dropped Lobov with a head kick in the first round, chipped away with jabs, right hands and leg kicks while circling on the outside and mixed in four late takedowns for good measure. Magomedsharipov and Moraes are set to do battle at UFC Fight Night 122 on Nov. 25 in Shanghai, China.
Aspen Ladd vs. Sarah Moras: The undefeated Ladd showed she had plenty of substance to go along with the hype, as the Invicta Fighting Championships veteran took out Lina Lansberg with second-round punches. Lansberg enjoyed sustained success in the first round, where she bottled up the UFC rookie in the clinch and sent one knee after another crashing into her abdomen, legs and hips. Ladd switched gears in the second, took down the Swede and eventually finished her with punches on the ground. A finalist on Season 18 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Moras last competed at UFC 215 on Sept. 9, when she submitted Ashlee Evans-Smith with a first-round armbar.