Darren Till finally brought the UFC to his hometown on Sunday for UFC Fight Night 130: Thompson vs. Till, but the bout didn't go the way that hardly anyone expected. It went the distance and the decision was shrouded in controversy.
Till and Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson went toe-to-toe for five solid rounds, but not in the fashion that most expected. Both are known for their dynamic striking styles, but neither could truly outshine the other over the course of the five-round welterweight main event in Liverpool, England.
Most pundits and fans seemed to lean to Thompson's favor after the fight, but the judges saw it much differently, scoring the bout unanimously in favor of the hometown fighter with scores of 48-47, 49-46, and 49-46.
For his part, UFC president Dana White admitted repeatedly that he couldn't decide one way or the other whom he thought had won.
Everyone involved knew it was close, but Thompson felt he had done enough to earn the nod.
"I knew it was going to be a close fight, but I thought I had edged it out," said Thompson.
"I though I had four of the rounds. Could be a controversial three, maybe. I don't know. But I felt like I kind of hit and move. The only good shot he really got in was that one shot... in the fourth or fifth round, but other than that, it was pretty close. But I felt comfortable out there."
Even Till, who took home the decision, wasn't at all upset that many people felt Thompson had won.
"Listen, it was a close fight. People are gonna want to say that he won and people say that I won. I couldn't care less. I got the decision. It was a very, very close fight," he said. "He was the most tricky fighter I've ever fought. It was a hard, hard fight."
The one thing that might surprise people about Till's thoughts on the fight is what the outcome means for the immediate future of the division.
Though he took home the decision, Till believes that, if either of them were to get a crack at a version of the UFC welterweight championship, it should still be Thompson.
"I think Stephen deserves a go with the interim more than I do me-self. I just beat him in a close fight, but give it to Stephen, he made weight and he's still number one and beat more guys than me," Till said.
"I'm not one to sit here and make excuses, I missed weight."