In the headliner of UFC Fight Night: London on Saturday (ESPN+, 1 p.m. ET) Darren Till will be looking to get back on track against Jorge Masvidal in his fourth straight main event. The bout will be his first action since coming up short in his title challenge against former champion Tyron Woodley last September. Till has had quick success in his UFC run and he will face an interesting test in Masvidal who, despite being a decent underdog, Masvidal (+225) seems to have the edge in several key statistical categories.
Over the course of his MMA career, Masvidal has developed into a polished fighter. He started as a simple brawler known for facing off against Kimbo Slice's protege "Ray" in a street fight, but his progression into a slick MMA striker is clearly evident via his UFC/Strikeforce statistics. His career striking differential -- significant strikes landed per minute minus significant strikes absorbed per minute -- currently stands at +1.20, which is fourth best among ranked welterweights.
His opponent Saturday lags well behind him in terms of this metric. Till's striking differential checks in at -0.59, which is third worst among the same group. In terms of significant strikes absorbed, the two fighters are very similar. Masvidal has absorbed 2.96 per minute, and Till has absorbed 2.98. Both are very slightly above the average of the top 16 UFC welterweights (3.21).
The separation in their striking differential comes on the offensive end. Masvidal has landed 4.15 significant strikes per minute compared to only 2.98 per minute for Till. The ability of "Gamebred" to land meaningful strikes while maintaining solid defense has given many of his opponents trouble over the years. Till could be the next to experience this frustration unless he is able to increase his offensive landing ability.
Even though Masvidal lands notably more significant strikes per minute than Till, the two fighters have very similar accuracy numbers. Masvidal has landed 47 percent of his significant strike attempts, and Till is not far behind at 46 percent. However, there is a big gap in terms of striking output.
Masvidal attempts 8.91 significant strikes per minute, which is 70 percent higher than Till's 5.23 attempts per minute. Even though Till lands at a respectable percentage, his lesser rate of attempts means that he might struggle to keep up with Masvidal in a striking contest.
Many fighters are reticent to increase their striking volume due to fear that an elevated activity level could leave them open for reprisals. That is a serious concern for a fighter like Till. As previously stated, Till is above average for ranked welterweights in terms of significant strikes absorbed per minute, and he has avoided 61 percent of his opponents' attempts. However, his lack of offensive engagement probably has contributed to these solid defensive numbers.
Unlike Till, Masvidal has been able to maintain solid defense while pushing the pace with his striking. For Till to be successful in this fight, he will need to create openings with his movement and footwork. This will allow him to increase his offensive activity while simultaneously limiting Masvidal's ability to respond.
Masvidal comes into this fight with a sizable experience edge. In his UFC/Strikeforce career, he has logged 286 total minutes of cage time. Till, who made his UFC debut in 2015, has spent only a little over 90 minutes in the Octagon. Despite the difference in experience, the two fighters have similar average fight times. Masvidal's average fight has lasted 13:37, and Till has had the slightly shorter average time at 12:54.
Since this is a main event fight, the bout will be scheduled for 25 minutes. Despite the overall experience edge, Masvidal has been scheduled for 25 minutes only twice in his 20-fight UFC/Strikeforce career. Both fights went the distance. Masvidal dropped a decision against Gilbert Melendez in 2011 and fell via split-decision against Benson Henderson in 2015. Till has already had three potentially championship-length fights. He fought the full 25 minutes only once when he defeated Stephen Thompson last year.
Despite impressive striking numbers, Masvidal is not an accomplished finisher. He has gone to decision in 16 of his 20 UFC/Strikeforce fights, and he has fought 85 percent of his potential cage time. Even though he is not a strong finisher, he is very durable. Masvidal has not been stopped himself during that span.
Masvidal's penchant to go the distance could be construed as a positive or a negative for Till. On one hand, he might have the better chance at scoring a stoppage victory, but on the other hand, it could mean that he has to go the full 25 minutes against a seasoned veteran to score the victory.
Although both of these fighters would probably prefer a standing striking battle, Masvidal might try to change it up by going for takedowns. He has shown some takedown skill in the past, and he has averaged 1.73 takedowns per 15 minutes of fight time and 0.64 passes per takedown.
If he changes his strategy and tries to take down Till, he might have some trouble. During his UFC run, Till has stopped 86 percent of his opponents' takedown attempts. He has allowed only 0.49 takedowns per 15 minutes. In his last fight against former champion Tyron Woodley, Till stopped all four of his takedowns. However, he did allow Woodley to land 45 significant ground strikes and finish via submission following a knockdown.
Till has shown that he has some liabilities on the ground, and Masvidal might want to take advantage. However, Till should be able to defend well enough to keep this a standing fight.