Israel Adesanya’s coach says Darren Till ‘frontrunner’ for next middleweight title shot

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Simon Head
·3 min read
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Israel Adesanya’s shot at “champ champ” glory may have ended in a unanimous decision defeat at UFC 259, but “The Last Stylebender’s” camp remains upbeat about the future.

Adesanya (20-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC), lost his light heavyweight title tilt, and his undefeated record, to reigning champion Jan Blachowicz in the main event at the UFC Apex on Saturday, leaving the Nigerian-born Kiwi to contemplate his next move.

Speaking to Submission Radio, Adesanya’s coach Eugene Bareman revealed that, despite their unsuccessful first crack at light heavyweight gold, fans can expect to see Adesanya return to the division for another shot at the title in the future. Bareman also stated that his second shot at the 205-pound strap will likely be against Blachowicz once again.

“We’re competitive, Israel’s ultra-competitive. Israel will go down and clean up and dominate 185 for a while,” he explained. “I do see Jan as being quite a long-reigning champion. I think we’ll definitely chase Jan again. He’s a worthy opponent, and he’s beaten us and he’s a worthy opponent. So, I can’t exactly predict the future, but we will definitely come hunting for the ‘Polish Power’ again.”

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For now, though, Adesanya’s immediate fighting future looks set to continue back in his natural weight class, where he remains the undisputed UFC middleweight champion. Considering the landscape at 185, Bareman said there were two names in the frame for the next title shot, with one standing out to Adesanya’s camp as the most likely man to step up to challenge him next.

“There’s no Marvin Vettori, there’s no Paulo Costa. There’s Darren Till,” Bareman stated. “Darren Till needs to win. And Robert Whittaker, because he’s one of our brethren, he’s one of our brothers, he’s a Kiwi. So, there’s two fights, and then what do we do? Jan wins a couple, we win a couple? I don’t know, that’s just me throwing stuff out there. But you’re on the right path.

“The problem with middleweight at the moment is Israel has gotten himself into a position where he’s cleaned it out a little bit. So, there’s Robert, who’s right there and who’s trudging his way back, who’s grinding his way back. But Darren Till is the front-runner there. Darren Till, and then hopefully Robert. Hopefully, the world’s back to normal and Robert can be a massive fight in Melbourne again, or Auckland. Probably Auckland. How about that?”

When asked why Bareman viewed Till, who has never challenged for the middleweight title, as a bigger threat than former 185-pound champion Whittaker, the coach laid out his thinking in clear terms.

“How is Robert the front-runner when, you know, I don’t want to say bad things about Robert, but it wasn’t a competitive fight? Like, he didn’t touch us. So how is that the front-runner for the next fight? The fight wasn’t competitive. The front-runner for us is the biggest challenge, and at the moment it seems to be that Darren Till could have a style that possibly gives Israel a few problems.”