UFC featherweight Grundy, Till’s wrestling coach at Team Kaobon, doesn’t see a return to welterweight as a bad move for Till. Although “The Gorilla” missed weight in two of his eight welterweight bouts in the UFC, he was able to put together an impressive run that led to a title shot.
Back-to-back stoppage losses in a title fight to Tyron Woodley and a home soil headliner against Jorge Masvidal prompted Till to move up to middleweight, where he couldn’t quite get establish himself as a viable contender, going 1-2 in three appearances to date. So while Grundy sees middleweight in Till’s future, he thinks a drop back down to welterweight could work for him, as well.
“He is big, and I think he could go back to 170,” Grundy told MMA Junkie. “It’s a tough weight cut, but maybe being more professional throughout the year and stuff like that. It’s never easy to weight cut for anyone, so I think 170 would still be good for him to do and then go back up for the middleweight title, eventually – do both titles like he said he would do – so I think it’s definitely possible for Darren.”
Till (18-4-1 MMA, 6-4-1 UFC) has lost four of his past five, most recently a third-round submission to Derek Brunson in September. Till entered that fight with an injured knee and as his wrestling coach, Grundy can confirm that Till barely grappled for that camp.
“Darren’s wrestling is good,” Grundy said. “Obviously everyone’s judging him on that one fight, but that one fight he didn’t wrestle for 10-to-12 weeks because of his ACL. He had a problem with his ACL, he tore his ACL, and he couldn’t wrestle for 10-to-12 weeks. Obviously I’m his wrestling coach, and he didn’t wrestle. That’s the truth, and when you can’t wrestle for two weeks, never mind 12 weeks, your timing’s off. It’s tough. It’s taxing on your body when you start wrestling again, so obviously everybody’s judging him off that performance, but Darren can wrestle.
“Look at before, he barely – Tyron Woodley, he wanted to take him down. He didn’t get taken down in that title fight. Kelvin Gastelum, he can wrestle, too, and he barely took him down. If he did, he was straight back up, so Darren’s wrestling is good enough, and everyone’s just judging him on that one fight against Brunson. Brunson is a good wrestler, but still, Darren being 100 percent, he could have defended them. He could have won that fight.”
Till hasn’t lost hope on his championship aspirations, and although he’s currently enduring a rough patch, Grundy has faith that his teammate will turn things around and reach his ultimate goal.
“I fully believe Darren will still become a champion of the UFC one day, definitely,” Grundy said. “He’s got the dedication, and he’s definitely got the mindset although he’s lost a few, but not many go and beat him. Look at Charles Oliveira, for an example: He’s become champion after the exact same record as Darren in their first 11 fights. Charles is on a 10-fight winning streak, and he’s the champion. I feel the similar is going to happen with Darren.”