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Darren Till's simple plan? Be the 'greatest fighter that ever fought in MMA'

GDANSK, Poland – When you ask fighters how they feel on the cusp of potentially career-defining moments, there’s one particular descriptor that seems downright inescapable: excited.

But as Darren Till (15-0-1 MMA, 3-0-1 UFC) prepares to headline his first UFC card, against WEC and octagon vet Donald Cerrone (32-9 MMA, 19-6 UFC), that’s not the word that he would use.

“I’m not excited,” Till told MMAjunkie ahead of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 118 event. “I’m not getting into my emotions right now. I’ve been saying this for the past few weeks: I just live in the moment. I’m seeing my face on the poster, but it hasn’t hit me yet. That that is me and that I’m fighting Cerrone.

“I’m just living every moment. I’m not taking anything for granted because opportunities like these only come around every so often, especially after I only got four fights in the UFC. It takes guys 10 fight-plus to get main events. So I’m honored. I really am.”

UFC Fight Night 118 takes place at Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland, and the entire card streams on UFC Fight Pass.

Till’s unique choice of words falls right in line with his UFC trajectory. As the welterweight himself pointed out, it’s not common for a fighter to earn such a big opportunity after an exciting, but timid four-fight UFC run – especially with a draw among those results.

Not only that: Despite being unbeaten, Till came out of relative obscurity to debut in the UFC – which he did as an underdog, back in 2015. But the charismatic Liverpool native, who’d had all of his previous pro MMA bouts in his temporary home of Brazil, seems to have a knack for making the opportunities count.

After taking a decision over Bojan Velickovic in a UFC Fight Night 115 barnburner in September, Till’s poise on the mic also stood out. And then the striking specialist famously turned a bar chat with matchmaker Sean Shelby into his biggest career opportunity yet.

Till hasn’t exactly been shy about his high aspirations. He’s not in this simply to build a career and, hopefully, make some money in the process. In fact, he’s not even in this to simply be a UFC champion.

“I want to be remembered as the greatest fighter that ever fought in MMA,” Till said.

But even with all of his ambition and remarkable self-confidence, Till carries some self-awareness with him. Which is why he took no ounce of offense when “Cowboy” Cerrone talked about not knowing who he was before agreeing to the welterweight scrap.

“Why should he know who I am? He’s got no reason to,” Till said. “Everyone thinks that I took disrespect to that. No, I didn’t. The guy has got no right in knowing who I am. Obviously, he knows who I am now.”

In fact, when it comes to Cerrone, the 24-year-old Till holds no grudges or no ill ill. The two, the Brit said, have run into each other in the hotel lobby a few times already and have exchanged nothing but friendly nods in a week that’s all about “good vibes.”

That is, until it isn’t.

“I came up watching him when he was fighting in the WEC (and) all of his UFC fights,” Till said. “I’m a fan. But I am still going to knock him out on Saturday. I respect him. After the fight he can have a Budweiser with me. But I will go in there to knock him straight out. That’s what I will do.”

Till, who’s clearly not one for modest plans, sees himself going on to be one of MMA’s biggest game-changers – joining the likes of former 205-pound champ Chuck Liddell, ex-middleweight-kingpin Anderson Silva and current lightweight titleholder Conor McGregor.

Saturday’s headliner, Till said, will be his “historic” moment, the one that reveals all of his greatness to the world. But even his grandiose plans are grounded in reality. While he fully expects a title shot to come some time in the future, he disagrees with those who think that a win over Cerrone could get him there already.

“I don’t want a title after this fight,” Till said. “I don’t believe I’ve earned that fight. I will never disrespect the champion that way. I want to (expletive) that champion up anyway. But I’m not going to disrespect that guy. That guy has racked years and years to get where he is now.

“And I just beat Cerrone, and it’s like, the guy thinks he deserves a title shot? No. I’ve got a good head on me. And I know after Cerrone I need to beat maybe one or two more people until I get that title.”

Upon getting those top-10 foes that should get him in line for the belt, though, Till has very little doubt as to what would happen.

“There’s no one in there that can beat me,” Till said. “They’re all bums.”

In fact, why stop at the top 10 of his own division?

“I am just the best fighter out there,” Till said. “There’s not a guy who’s better than me, on my level. In my mind, there’s not a guy who can beat me. I really truly believe that when I say it. Guys, they come out to say they’re the best and this and that. You can see, when they say it, they don’t believe it.

“When I say something, I believe it totally. I don’t look at someone – I don’t look at (170-pound champion Tyron) Woodley. I don’t even look at light heavyweights that are better than me. I believe I’m better than every single one of them.”

To hear more from Till, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 118, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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