DALLAS — Tyron Woodley sent Darren Till to the canvas with a right hand early in the second round. It took him several minutes to finish off the English fighter and defend his welterweight title at UFC 228 on Saturday night.
Woodley beat Till on a second-round submission, his fourth title defense and first in more than a year after he was roundly booed and even criticized by UFC President Dana White in his previous win in the 170-pound mixed martial arts division.
Till (17-1-1) lost for the first time in his first title fight.
“He had all the pressure,” Woodley said. “When you’re undefeated, you don’t know. I’ve been in that position, 10-0, rising star. Everybody thought I was the hottest thing on the block. Got knocked out. It broke my heart. I never thought I was going to lose.”
Perhaps responding to the boos from his win over Demian Maia last summer in California, Woodley (19-3-1) came out aggressively before settling into a more conservative approach for most of the first round.
A right hand early in the second dropped Till, and Woodley repeatedly punched him on the canvas while the 25-year-old from Liverpool, England, desperately tried to stay in the fight.
With his neck bent in a headlock and a strained look on his face, Till started tapping Woodley’s hip as the referee stepped in to stop the fight at 4:19 of the second round. Woodley had Till pinned on the canvas for about three minutes before the fight was called.
“Till is a tough kid,” the 36-year-old Woodley said. “I’m not surprised he survived my ground and pound.”
After White criticized his win over Maia, Woodley demanded an apology a few days later while saying he had injured his shoulder in the fight. He eventually had arthroscopic surgery.
White had declared that “nobody wants to see Tyron Woodley fight” after the Maia bout and said Georges St. Pierre would get the next shot at middleweight champion Michael Bisping instead of Woodley.
St. Pierre has since beaten Bisping and vacated that title, while Colby Covington beat former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos for the interim 170-pound belt in Chicago in June. Woodley dismissed Covington’s spot as the “boo-boo belt.”
Till had struggled to stay under the required weight in previous fights, but never got a chance to show whether he had the conditioning to go with it after making weight at 169 pounds and defiantly flashing a pair of obscene gestures at the weigh-in.
Once the fight started, Till was conservative, sitting back while waiting to see how Woodley would attack. There were a few boos when the fighters were locked in bear hugs on the fence twice in the first round.
“It just makes you stronger,” Till said of the loss. “There’s no excuses. Make no mistake. I will come back stronger.”
Jessica Andrade (19-6) knocked out Karolina Kowalkiewicz (13-3) at 1:58 of the first round in a women’s 115-pound non-title fight in the co-main event.
Andrade’s strawweight win replaced a women’s flyweight championship fight that was canceled when title holder Nicco Montano was hospitalized for an undisclosed health issue. Montano was supposed to face top-ranked contender Valentina Shevchenko.