The UFC Fight Island series from Abu Dhabi concludes with a very intriguing card this Saturday on ESPN. The card is headlined by the former UFC Middleweight Champion Robert ‘The Reaper’ Whittaker, as he takes on the Darren Till, who is looking for his second win at 185lbs. Before betting the fight, take a look at the individual betting trends for each fighter, shared here at MMASucka.com.
Whittaker (-109) vs Till (+100)
Tale of the Tape
Robert ‘the Reaper’ Whittaker is fighting out of New South Wales, Australia. At 29yrs old, he’s 6 feet tall with a 73.5inch reach. Darren Till is fighting out of Liverpool, England. He is 27yrs old, 6 feet tall, with a 75inch reach. Till has a small advantage when it comes to wingspan. Whittaker is 20-5 as a pro, and 11-3 since his UFC debut back in 2012. Meanwhile, Darren Till is 18-2-1 in his professional career and 6-2-1 since making his UFC debut in 2015. Overall, these two fighters are quite evenly matched, Whittaker is a little bit more battle-tested, which may end up being a disadvantage when it’s all said and done.
Recent Fighter History
Darren Till is a former UFC Welterweight #1 contender, who suffered his first loss as a professional to Tyron Woodley when he fought for the UFC welterweight gold at UFC 228. After a disappointing knockout loss to Jorge Masvidal in March of 2019, Till moved up to the Middleweight division for health purposes, as he found the 170-weight cut to be quite taxing on his body. Till put on a superb performance at middleweight against Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 224 last November, picking up a decision victory as a +175 underdog. This fight against Whittaker will mark just his second bout in this division. Defeating Whittaker would be a huge victory, adding a former middle champion to his resume of wins.
Robert Whittaker enters this bout coming off a middleweight title fight loss to Israel Adesanya, where Whittaker was knocked out in the 2nd round. Prior to the Adesanya loss, Whittaker was on a nine-fight winning streak. That streak dated back to June of 2014. Robert Whittaker was the middleweight champion but had to vacate the belt last year due to injury. Now, a healthy Whittaker comes into this bout ranked #1 in the division. He hopes to bounce himself right back into the title picture, with a win over Till (#5).
A win over the English-man would surely put ‘the Reaper’ in the driver seat for another shot at the title vs either Adesanya or Paulo Costa, depending on who comes on top of that fight at UFC 253. Either way, if Jared Cannonier is not ready in time, ‘Bobby Knuckles’ hopes to get the W over Till and put himself in the front of the line for another shot at the UFC Middleweight gold.
Measure of Expectation: Robert Whittaker
Robert Whittaker has reached far beyond his expectations in his 14 career UFC fights. Since 2012, Whittaker has an 11-3 record in the UFC, winning 5 fights by stoppage and 6 by decision.
Bettors backing ‘Whittaker to win’ have profited +9.16 units, while the real money has come from backing him by decision. Whittaker backers who have bet $100 on ‘the Reaper’ to win by decision in his 14 UFC fights have profited +$82 per fight win or lose, for a total of +$1147. Whittaker picked up back to back decision victories over Yoel Romero cashing at +550 and +250 respectively in their bouts at UFC 213 and 225. Meanwhile, bettors backing ‘Whittaker Inside the Distance’ has also enjoyed success, going 5-9 for +6.93 units profit. Whittaker’s most recent ‘Inside the Distance’ victory came in 2017 against Ronaldo Souza, cashing at +350. Needless to say, Bobby Knuckles has measured up very well against the expectations in his UFC career and has awarded his backers with immense profits.
Measure of Expectation: Darren Till
Darren Till has picked up decision wins in 4 of his 9 career UFC bouts. Cashing in his most recent fight vs Kelvin Gastelum ‘to Win by Decision’ at +460. Bettors who have backed ‘Till by Decision’ since the start of his UFC career, have gone 4-5 for +7.95 units profit. Meanwhile, Till has delivered on the ‘to Win’ prop as well, going 6-2-1 for +4.69 units profit, with is last three victories all coming as an underdog.
Whittaker Fight Betting Trends
Exactly half of Robert Whittaker’s 14 career UFC fights have gone the distance (7/14), while eight have gone ‘Over’ the total. Bettors backing ‘Fight Goes the Distance’ in Robert Whittaker bouts have enjoyed a 7-7 record for +3.17 units profit, while the ‘Over’ prop has cashed at a 57% rate, going 8-6 for +1.67 units profit in his UFC career.
Till Fight Betting Trends
In nine career UFC fights, Darren Till has had five go the distance, as well as ‘Over’ the betting total. Bettors backing ‘Fight goes the Distance’ in all nine of Darren Till’s UFC bouts have gone 5-4 for +0.77 units profit.
Division Betting Trends
The ‘Over’ prop has been a profitable and probable betting trend in the UFC Men’s Middleweight division over the last year and a half, going 40-22 for +3.31 units profit. At 64%, implied probability has the buy price on this trend at about -180, while the ‘Over 4.5 Rounds’ prop is currently listed at +105. Based on these numbers, the ‘Over 4.5 Rounds’ prop is a steal at plus money.
Make or Break
The make or breakpoint in this match-up at UFC Fight Island 3, is going to be Whittaker’s overall health and more specifically, his capacity to take shots and be durable in a five-round fight. We’ve seen what Whittaker has endured over the years, going the distance with Yoel Romero twice, and taking a big knockout shot to lose the fight to Israel Adesanya. If Till is able to build on his past performance, he may not exactly be a ‘sure thing’ to finish the fight. That said, if he is at the same level that he was at against Kelvin Gastelum, he will be a big problem for Whittaker in this match up.
The big question mark for Darren Till will be over his ability to take this fight into the deep waters. We’ve seen Robert Whittaker in five-round fights multiple times, this is a guy who went the distance and won against Yoel Romero twice. This is a guy who’s got finishes over Jacare Souza, as well as Derek Brunson. Those finishes were in the first and second rounds, there’s still a little bit of a margin between what Whittaker has been able to do in octagon vs what Till has done, as far as pedigree and strength of schedule.
Toe to Toe
While Whittaker and Till are both predominately strikers, they both have significantly different styles.
Till is a pressure fighter and uses his reach and height to his advantage by taking up a large amount of space with faints and measuring hand movements. Till has the ability to step in very quickly on his opponent, due to his length and superb Thai style footwork.
As for Robert Whittaker, he has a much different style. Whittaker is much more of a boxing style striker, as opposed to Darren Till’s Muay Thai style. Whittaker is also more of a counter puncher, as he is very much willing to let the fight come to him, rather than chasing or forcing his way to the inside.
Till will be looking for that strong sweeping Muay Thai style body kick. Fighting an orthodox style, Whittaker will leave his left side wide open for the body shot. Till is going to be threatening with movement on his lead leg. He will be measuring for that body kick, or he can easily transition into a lead elbow.
As for Whittaker, what he utilizes as far as his rear leg kick, is more of a snap leg kick, which can easily be set-up. Especially if he is able to catch Till bending forward to avoid a punch or body strike. This is the kick that Whittaker used to set up the knockout of Jacare Souza, and it has just as much to do with timing as it does power. If Till finds himself facing pressure from Whittaker against the fence and tries to slip one of his strikes by going forward and through the inside of Whittaker’s range, the snapping high kick could be there waiting for him.
Robert Whittaker is a far less mobile fighter and incorporates fewer faints and movements into his stance and fighting style. Till likely isn’t going to be able to catch Whittaker swinging for the fences. That is unless he’s in an aggressive ‘do or die’ type situation. This ‘undisciplined’ chasing is what led to Whittaker’s demise against Israel Adesanya. An uncharacteristic mistake from a fighter who is normally very calculated and conservative.
Keep it Standing
Both Whittaker and Till have less than 1.0 takedowns per 15 minutes. Whittaker is 0.36, and Till is 0.66. Both fighters have an average takedown defense of about 80%. There is no question that this fight will be contested on the feet. Both fighters would much rather take their chances going toe to toe with the other, rather than getting into a grappling match. I expect this fight to start off very slow. Expect a lot of measuring and feeling out in the early portion. Whittaker isn’t going to let himself get drawn into attacks, as he did vs Adesanya. Therefore, we might see much more of a chess match than an all-out brawl.
As for Till, his success came against Gastelum by using his reach advantage and keeping his opponent at bay with range striking. This isn’t going to exactly be the type of style that will get him a stoppage victory over Whittaker. He may be able to squeak out a points victory. Just as long as Till doesn’t take too much damage on his points of entry. The primary key to success for Darren Till is staying out of Whittaker’s range, and being ultra-aware of the counter-attack at the point of entry. If Till is able to stick and move, as well as incorporating a bit of a counter-attacking game of his own, he may have what it takes to get the victory over ‘the Reaper’.
While Robert Whittaker has picked up an impressive six UFC wins by way of decision, it looks like the real way to find value in this fight is by backing Darren Till on the scorecards. Till has gone decision in five of his nine UFC bouts, and has never dropped a fight by decision in his UFC career.
Till has four decision victories, and took a majority draw to Nicolas Dalby in his second UFC fight. That was back in 2015. Between Whittaker and Till, 12 of 23 (52%) of their combined UFC fights have gone to the judges.
Considering those numbers, if you are backing Darren Till at +333 to ‘win by Decision’ in a fight that is more than likely going to reach the later rounds, you are getting a solid chunk of value. Even if you’re not keen on the ‘Decision’ prop, you are still getting a bargain on Till. Till is possibly the more durable fighter at this point in each fighter’s career. You may be better off splitting your action between ‘Till to win’ at +100 and ‘Over 4.5 Rounds’ at +105. That might be safer than taking ‘Till by Decision’ at that dangerous +333 price. Take Darren Till in this one.
3.3% – Darren Till +100
1.4% – Fight Goes Distance: Yes (+120)
1% – Till/Whittaker (Over 4.5) +105