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Darren Till inspired by Israel Adesanya’s ‘masterclass,’ vows to beat him ‘when the time comes’

Darren Till rates Israel Adesanya’s UFC middleweight title defense against Paulo Costa as a 12 out of 10. He offered a glowing review, and said he’s eager to one day share the octagon with the champ.

Till (18-3-1 MMA, 6-3-1 UFC) has his own business to handle first, though, and that’s a critical 185-pound main event fight with Jack Hermansson (21-5 MMA, 8-3 UFC) on the UFC’s Dec. 5 card in Las Vegas. It’s a fight that’s certain to have implications on the title picture, and Till is well aware of the challenge he’s facing.

In fact, Till affirms that Hermansson, with his dangerous ground game and diverse submission arsenal, offers him a task he hasn’t quite experienced in his career.

“I think he’s going to come in and attack the neck and attack the legs and look for a quick sub,” Till told MMA Junkie. “So I’ve got to be physically and mentally prepared for that. I think it’s going to be a very strategic fight. I don’t think I’m going to play it sort of like my last few fights where I’m waiting to miss and hitting them with one shot. If I can defend all his attacks I’m just going to be looking to really put combinations together and put him out early. That’s what I’m going to be looking for me.”

After putting on a near-flawless performance against Costa at UFC 253 in September, Adesanya (20-0 MMA, 9-0 UFC) has targeted Jared Cannonier as his desired next challenger, should he beat Robert Whittaker at UFC 254 on Oct. 24. If the fight goes Whittaker’s way, though, that could create an opportunity for Till or Hermansson to slide in instead, as Adesanya recently beat the former champ.

There are a lot of potential scenarios in play, but Till said he won’t be part of the conversation if he doesn’t win his fight.

“I’m not looking at any of that,” Till said. “I’m just looking at Jack. Me and Adesanya (will fight), me and Whittaker will probably run it back, and this time I’ll finish him in the first round. That elbow won’t go slipping this time. I’m just focused on Jack. I’m 27. I know I’ve got time on my hands, I know what I need to do and I’m just going to let it all out. I’m just focused on Jack.”

Even though he insists Hermansson is his sole focus, the talk about Adesanya never lingers too far away. Till said he was blown away with the champion’s effort against Costa, and he’s actually using it as motivation to get better. Till thinks he can be the one to unseat the undefeated titleholder, but pointed to the importance of patience.

“I know when the time comes I’m going to beat Israel Adesanya,” Till said. “Invite the hate, but (I) cannot take nothing away from that performance: utter masterclass, utter confidence. I can take inspiration from it even though we’re rivals. To be able to do that shows a level of maturity that I can do that. Costa just needs to come back, whatever he needs to do. But it was an utter masterclass.”

Adesanya’s fighting skills are tough to criticize at this point, but his personality has seemingly caused some division with fans and fellow fighters. “The Last Stylebender” has been feuding with the likes of Jon Jones and Chris Weidman since his win, and has not missed a single opportunity to rub Costa’s loss in his face.

Till said he’s not keen to target Adesanya, though. The two of them have formed something of a mutually respectful rivalry, and Till said he plans to keep it that way on his end, mainly because he finds that to be the best approach.

“I’m never going to hate him, or any other fighters,” Till said. “I like to think I’m smart enough to know anything they say or do doesn’t affect my feelings. I’m not really sensitive in that way. I can make jokes about myself, I can make jokes about me family. I’ve seen a tweet the other day like, ‘What’s the limit, what’s not the limit?’ For me, I don’t really see people talking about family or other stuff like that. It doesn’t affect me, but I can see how it disrespects other fighters. I’m not really one of them to just hate someone because they said something.

“We’re going to fight, whether they want to fight on the streets or the cage, it’s more sensible in the cage, but I’m not going to hate on that person. I’m not going to hate on Izzy because he’s doing well or because he’s got this or he’s got that. I hate him for the fight. If we’re going to fight, yeah I’ll hate him. As a person, as a human being, if you’re a guy that’s hating, you’ve got some serious problems with yourself inside yourself. I can’t hate on anyone, I hate myself.”

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