Darren Till wants to get 'body healthy,' then return to UFC

Darren Till fully intends to fight in the UFC again, despite his recent request for the company to sever his contract.

Till, 30, told ESPN on Thursday that he asked the UFC to release him earlier this year so he could focus on his health and entertain options away from the Octagon. The UFC granted Till's request this week, when news broke that he'd been released from his contract.

"I want to get some injections in my knee and really take care of my knees," Till said. "Some of the stuff I want to inject into my knee, am I going to pass some of these [UFC anti-doping drug] tests? There are a lot of hurdles. Maybe I'll get [knee] surgery.

"Maybe I could give myself two years off from the UFC and come back. See what's out there for two years, make my body healthy. [UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell's] reply was, 'Listen, I'll support you but you know we're not in the habit of bringing people back to the UFC.' I understand, but in my head I was thinking, 'Your opinion will change in two years, mate.' I know for a fact, two or three years max, I'll be back in the UFC."

Till (18-5-1) said he believes he will fight three times in 2023, although he hinted those fights will likely be in a striking discipline rather than MMA. He expressed interest in boxing, and indicated he might elect to put off knee surgery until he's ready to return to full MMA.

Fighting out of Liverpool, Till enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity in 2018, when he went unbeaten in his first six fights in the UFC and rose to a welterweight title bout against Tyron Woodley. He lost that fight via submission, and has gone on to a 1-5 record in his past six appearances. He suffered a knee injury in 2020 during a fight against Robert Whittaker and another one leading up to a main event bout against Derek Brunson in 2021.

Despite the skid, Till has remained a popular figure in the sport and said he has already received offers from various fight promoters. He said he intends to fight for at least five more years.

"I'm a clever young man and I've got a plan that I'm going to execute," Till said. "This is all going to work in the end."