UFC Fight Island Robert Whittaker vs. Darren Till — Live results, analysis

Robert Whittaker and Darren Till have been enjoying friendly back-and-forth exchanges on social media for the better part of the year.

It started with Till’s repeated question of “Rob?” on Instagram and Twitter. Then the two joked about the kind of junk food they were eating during their respective pandemic-related quarantines. In April, the two agreed to a catchweight of 195 pounds — rather than a 185-pound middleweight bout — so neither had to diet.

The two genuinely like each other, but there’s no doubt the time for quips will be over when they enter the Octagon for the main event of UFC Fight Night on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi.

ESPN has Whittaker ranked No. 2 and Till ranked No. 6 in the world at middleweight.

Whittaker (20-5) has not fought since dropping the middleweight title to Israel Adesanya at UFC 243 last October. The New Zealand-born Australia resident was on a nine-fight winning streak prior to that and had held gold since 2017. Whittaker, 29, was the first Aussie to win a UFC title.

Till (18-2-1) moved up to middleweight from welterweight and beat Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 244 last November. The England native had lost two straight before that, to Jorge Masvidal and Tyron Woodley in a welterweight title bout. Till, 27, was undefeated before falling to Woodley.

In the co-main event, Brazilian legends will meet in a trilogy bout. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua takes on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a light heavyweight battle. Rua (26-11-1) has defeated Nogueira twice and has just one loss in his past six fights. Nogueira (23-9), a 44-year-old veteran of 19 years in MMA, has said he will retire after this bout.

Also on the card, former light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson comes out of retirement and moves up to heavyweight to take on former champion Fabricio Werdum. Plus, former strawweight champion Carla Esparza meets up-and-comer Marina Rodriguez, and top prospect Khamzat Chimaev returns after an excellent debut two weeks ago to face Rhys McKee.

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Fight lineup:

Middleweight: Robert Whittaker (21-5, 11-3 UFC, -125) vs. Darren Till (18-2-1, 6-2-1 UFC, +105)
Light heavyweight: Mauricio Rua (26-11-1, 11-8-1 UFC, -185) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (23-9, 6-6 UFC, +165)
Heavyweight: Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1, 9-4 UFC, +285) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (18-6, 12-4 UFC, -350)
Strawweight: Carla Esparza (17-6, 7-4 UFC, +160) vs. Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2, 3-0-2 UFC, -180)
Light heavyweight: Paul Craig (12-4-1, 4-4-1 UFC, -130) vs. Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-6, 2-2 UFC, +110)
Welterweight: Alex Oliveira (20-8-1, -170) vs. Peter Sobotta (17-6-1, 4-2 UFC, 10-6-1 UFC, +150)
Welterweight: Khamzat Chimaev (7-0, 1-0 UFC, -1400) vs. Rhys McKee (10-2-1, 0-0 UFC, +800)
Lightweight: Francisco Trinaldo (25-7, 15-6 UFC, -145) vs. Jai Herbert (10-1, 0-0 UFC, +125)
Welterweight: Nicolas Dalby (18-3-1, 2-2-1 UFC, -250) vs. Jesse Ronson (21-10, 0-2 UFC, +210)
Heavyweight: Tom Aspinall (7-2, 0-0 UFC -235) vs. Jake Collier (11-4, 3-3 UFC, +195)
Men’s featherweight: Movsar Evloev (12-0, 2-0 UFC, -190) vs. Mike Grundy (12-1, 1-0 UFC, +170)
Heavyweight: Tanner Boser (18-6-1, 2-1 UFC, -250) vs. Raphael Pessoa (10-1, 1-1 UFC, +210)
Women’s bantamweight: Bethe Correia (11-4-1, 5-4-1 UFC, +130) vs. Pannie Kianzad (13-5, 1-2 UFC, -150)
Welterweight: Ramazan Emeev (18-4, 3-1 UFC, -400) vs. Niklas Stolze (12-3, 0-0 UFC, +320)
Men’s bantamweight: Nathaniel Wood (16-4, 3-1 UFC, -440) vs. John Castaneda (17-4, 0-0 UFC, +350)

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