Darren Till is confident of inflicting a first stoppage defeat of Stephen Thompson’s professional career this weekend on what is set to be a “very emotional” occasion for the Liverpudlian.
Till’s clash against American Thompson headlines on Sunday as Liverpool’s Echo Arena hosts the first UFC event ever to be held in the city.
The 25-year-old Merseysider, unbeaten in 17 MMA contests including five in the UFC, is facing an opponent whose own 17-fight record, featuring 12 UFC bouts, shows two losses, both on points, and who is the number one-ranked welterweight contender.
Till, eighth in the rankings, said at Friday’s media day: “Everyone can get stopped. I believe I’m that guy to stop Stephen. I really just believe it. I’m going to stop him – for me, there’s no other outcome.
“I feel like within the first two rounds I am going to stop him. And if it doesn’t go like that, we’ll go into deep water and I’ll win on five rounds, I know that.”
As well as being a first for his home city, Sunday’s event will be the first in the UK Till has fought at in his pro career, and comes the day after Liverpool, the club he supports, play in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Kiev.
He added: “The best thing about this is that it has never been here before. It’s going to be very emotional for me and for the whole of Liverpool.
“I have something special for my walk-out, a nice tune to get the crowd absolutely chanting, and it’s going to be good to come out and know that everyone in that arena is there for me.
“I don’t think it gives me any advantage, but it is definitely going to be good to hear all the fans singing. I’m a Liverpool fan and I really want them to win, and I know I’m going to win.
“It’s just going to be one of those weekends people will talk about for years to come – and obviously it will go down in the history books.”
South Carolina native Thompson, whose two fights before his most recent saw him twice last five rounds against UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in a draw and then a defeat, said on Friday regarding Till’s talk of stopping him: “I think everybody for some reason underestimates me.
“Let him think that. It tells me he is going to come out aggressive. Most of the guys I’ve faced in the division have been aggressive fighters and they tend to end up running into things. But wherever the fight goes, I’m prepared.”
He added: “I think it’s cool, to be the ‘bad guy’, coming into Liverpool. And it’s pretty cool to be on the card at the very first Liverpool UFC in history.”
Thompson got a tour of Goodison Park on Thursday, being shown around by another Liverpool fighter, Everton supporter Molly McCann, who will make her UFC debut at Sunday’s event when she faces Gillian Robertson.
Thompson, who donned a Toffees shirt bearing his nickname ‘Wonderboy’ during the tour, stressed on Friday that “the whole football scene is very new” to him, and said that while it was “cool to go and see Everton” he is “definitely rooting for Liverpool this Saturday.”