UFC Vegas 36: Derek Brunson and Darren Till are hoping to get one step closer to a title shot

Middleweight contenders Derek Brunson and Darren Till will meet in the main event of UFC Vegas 36 this weekend.

By Stone Lexington

Updated: Aug. 31, 2021 • 2:20 PM ET

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Darren Till - Wikimedia Commons

Derek Brunson and Darren Till will have the opportunity to get one step closer to a middleweight title shot when they meet at UFC Vegas 36 on Saturday. As both fighters know, though, earning a title shot in the UFC is no easy task.

 

Brunson, ranked No. 5 in the middleweight division, has never fought for a UFC championship. He has won four straight fights since suffering a loss to current champion Israel Adesanya at UFC 230 in November 2018, and another victory could have him one fight away from fighting for a UFC title for the first time.

 

Adesanya didn’t have the belt when he and Brunson fought in 2018, and it wasn’t a good showing for the 37-year-old veteran. Adesanya TKO’d Brunson in the first round and went on to win the interim middleweight title less than six months later. Meanwhile, Brunson (22-7) hasn’t lost a fight since, experiencing a resurgence before he turns 38 years old in January and his career winds down.

The 28-year-old Till has only lost three fights in his professional MMA career, but each of his losses have come within his last four bouts. His first loss as a pro came at UFC 228 in September 2018 when he challenged former champion Tyron Woodley for the welterweight title. The fight did not go as Till planned, as Woodley submitted him via a D’arce choke in the second round.

 

In his next fight in March 2019, Till (18-3) faced rising contender Jorge Masvidal but was knocked out in the second round. It was the Brit’s second straight loss after winning his first 18 fights, and a move from welterweight to middleweight came soon after.

 

In his first fight after returning to middleweight (fought at 185 pounds from 2013-14), Till defeated Kelvin Gastelum by split decision at UFC 244 in November 2019. He has only fought once since the bout with Gastelum, a unanimous decision loss to former champion Robert Whittaker in July 2020. Ranked No. 7 in the middleweight division, Till is attempting to fight his way to back to a shot at gold.

Adesanya’s next title defense will probably come against Whittaker, who the champion knocked out to win the undisputed title in 2019. As Adesanya seeks new challenges, Brunson or Till could throw their name into the mix of possible challengers for the title with a win on Saturday.

 

 

• Start time/how to watch: The main card can be seen on ESPN+ at 4 p.m. EST this Saturday.

 

 

The rest of the main card

 

Heavyweight bout - No. 13 Tom Aspinall vs. No. 14 Serghei Spivac

 

Welterweight bout - Alex Morono vs. David Zawada

 

Light heavyweight bout - Modestas Bukauskas vs. Khalil Rountree Jr.

 

Lightweight bout - Paddy Pimblett vs. Luigi Vendramini

 

 

 

Prelims on ESPN+ at 1:30 p.m. EST

 

Women’s flyweight bout - Molly McCann vs. Ji Yeon Kim

 

Bantamweight bout - Jack Shore vs. Liudvik Sholinian

 

Catchweight bout (150 pounds) - Julian Erosa vs. Charles Jourdain

 

Middleweight bout - Dalcha Lungiambula vs. Marc-Andre Barriault

 

Bantamweight bout - Jonathan Martinez vs. Marcelo Rojo

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