Former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker earned a narrow unanimous decision win over Darren Till at UFC on ESPN 14 Saturday night at Fight Island.
In a close fight that could have gone either way, it appeared the judges favoured the volume of Whittaker compared to the power shots of Till, who said in the post-fight press conference that he had problems with his right knee somewhere around the third round. The takedowns of Whittaker also proved critical as Till landed some power shots – including a first round elbow that floored Whittaker – and won the first two rounds on many scorecards.
But then Whittaker knocked Till down in the second round and won the last three rounds outworking Till both on the feet and the ground.
The judges scored it 48-47, 48-47, and 48-47.
Paul Craig, Khamzat Chimaev, Tanner Boser, Jesse Ronson, Tom Aspinall, and Fabricio Werdum all earned performances of the night. Each fighter earned a $50,000 USD bonus.
Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts on the main card.
In case you missed the prelims:
NATHANIEL WOOD DEF. JOHN CASTANDEA VIA UD (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
RAMAZAN EMEEV DEF. NIKLAS STOLZE VIA UD (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
PANNIE KIANZAD DEF. BETHE CORREIA VIA UD (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
TANNER BOSER DEF. TAPHAEL PESSOA VIA TKO (PUNCHES) R2 2:36
MOVSAR EVLOEV DEF. MIKE GRUNDY VIA UD (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
TOM ASPINALL DEF. JAKE COLLIER VIA TKO (PUNCHES) R1 0:45
JESSE RONSON DEF. NICOLAS DALBY VIA SUBMISSION (RNC) R1 2:48
FRANCISCO TRINALDO DEF. PETER SOBOTT VIA TKO (PUNCHES) R3 1:30
KHAMZAT CHIMAEV VS. RHYS MCKEE
WINNER: KHAMZAT CHIMAEV VIA TKO (GROUND AND POUND) R1 3:09
ANDREWS PREDICTION: KHAMZAT CHIMAEV VIA TKO
Andrews: He did it again. Nice work, quick turnaround.
ALEX OLIVEIRA VS. PETER SOBOTTA
WINNER: ALEX OLIVEIRA VIA UD (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: ALEX OLIVEIRA VIA TKO
Andrews: Oliveira hurt Sobotta several times in the fight. Good win.
PAUL CRAIG VS. GADZHIMURAD ANTIGULOV
WINNER: PAUL CRAIG VIA SUBMISSION (TRIANGLE CHOKE)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: PAUL CRAIG VIA TKO
Andrews: That was a statement win.
CARLA ESPARZA VS. MARINA RODRIGUEZ
WINNER: CARLA ESPARZA VIA SD (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: MARINA RODRIGUEZ VIA UD
Andrews: Esparza pulls another one out of the fire, but if Rodriguez can improve her takedown defence, she will rack up some wins.
FABRICIO WERDUM VS. ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON
WINNER: FABRICIO WERDUM VIA SUBMISSION (ARMBAR) R1 2:30
ANDREWS PREDICTION: ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON VIA UD
Andrews: Wow! A vintage performance by Werdum.
MAURICIO RUA VS. ANTONIO RODRIGO NOGUEIRA
WINNER: MAURICIO RUA VIA SD (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: MAURICIO RUA VIA UD
Andrews: Fun fight, but both fighters should retire, not just Little Nog.
#1 ROBERT WHITTAKER VS. #5 DARREN TILL
WINNER: ROBERT WHITTAKER VIA UD (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)
ANDREWS PREDICTION: ROBERT WHITTAKER VIA SUBMISSION
Andrews: A good performance by Till, but Whittaker’s versatility proved to be the difference.