When the door opened, Darren Till walked through it.
The undefeated Englishman entered the Ultimate Fighting Championship thanks to a last-minute call to replace the injured T.J. Waldburger at a UFC Fight Night event on May 30. There, Till took out Wendell de Oliveira Marques with a series of second-round elbows, announcing his arrival at 170 pounds.
An Astra Fight Team rep who has lived and trained in Florianopolis, Brazil, since 2013, Till will meet former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship titleholder Nicolas Dalby at UFC Fight Night “Holohan vs. Smolka” on Saturday at 3Arena in Dublin. Dalby will carry a perfect 14-0 record into the cage, but Astra Fight Team trainer Marcelo Brigadeiro sounds confident in his pupil and expects Till to score another impressive victory inside the Octagon.
“The preparation is done, and Till is ready,” he told Sherdog.com. “The fans can expect a great fight. Besides being undefeated, both fighters are strikers with good ground games and wrestling skills. I truly believe it’s going to be the ‘Fight of the Night,’ but I think Till will win.
“He has the more technical standup, and I don’t think Dalby will be able to take him down,” added Brigadeiro, a luta livre black belt under Marcio Cromado. “If it hits the ground, Till trained a lot of luta livre and will submit him.”
Like the rest of the MMA world, Brigadeiro has taken an interest in Conor McGregor’s rise to power. He admits he was surprised by the strength of the following McGregor has developed in Ireland, as he prepares to face Jose Aldo in a bout to unify the featherweight championship at UFC 194 in December.
“I’m really impressed with the so-called ‘McGregormania’ here,” Brigadeiro said. “When you leave the plane, there is a big photo of him in Dublin’s airport. I could feel the people over here living and breathing the UFC thanks to McGregor.”
Brigadeiro was fascinated by how deep McGregor’s influence runs.
“I went to an academy here, and there were many guys dressed like McGregor, with their beards cut just like him,” he said. “He looks to be more popular here than Anderson Silva is in Brazil. I lived in England when the UFC exploded with [Michael] Bisping and Dan Hardy, and I have no doubt that McGregor is bigger here in Ireland now. He definitely has MMA on the hearts and minds of the Irish people.”