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UFC 228 Media Call: Champions and Challengers Champing at the Bit


Two championships will go up for grabs on Sept. 8, with Tyron Woodley putting his welterweight title on the line against Darren Till while women's flyweight champion Nicco Montano makes her return against top-ranked contender Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228 in Dallas.

For Woodley, this will be an opportunity to add yet another title defense to his resume, but he's definitely facing a tough challenge ahead in Till.

The 6-foot-tall British slugger towers over the reigning champion and looks like he might be a weight class bigger. None of that concerns Woodley too much because he's faced every kind of competition throughout his career and size alone won't win Till the fight.

"He's a big welterweight but I fought many guys who were former middleweights, guys that were supposed to be at welterweight that showed up at middleweight, so I think I'm accustomed to fighting guys that are a little bit heavier than me and definitely guys that are taller than me," Woodley said during the UFC 228 media conference call on Thursday.

"That's not really the largest part of the game plan, to try and dictate what I'm going to do about something I can't control. He's taller. So are many other fighters I've fought."

While Woodley is confident that he's going to win on Sept. 8, he's not thinking about adding another title defense to his resume or what this fight will mean to his legacy. Instead, Woodley prefers to only think about the task at hand, and that's giving Till the first loss of his career.

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"This is my super fight. This is the biggest fight of my career," Woodley said. "I'm in great shape. I've had a great training camp. I feel like we've addressed those issues that we've seen on film and that's my goal, to go out there and have a great performance."

Meanwhile, Till will step into his third consecutive UFC main event, but this will be the first time the 25-year old Liverpudlian has ever competed for a championship.

That kind of spotlight might blind a lot of fighters, but Till promises that he's never been overwhelmed by the moment before and he's not planning to start now.

"To me, 10 million eyes, 10,000 eyes, it doesn't matter," Till stated. "It's still the same fight in my eyes. It's normal to get scared, to feel nervous, to get butterflies before a fight, those are normal emotions from a human being.

"But if you start letting the pressure [get to you] because there's more people watching, because there's more cameras, because there's more people who want a piece from you, this is our job. This is our job to fight. So pressure doesn't come into it. If you can't deal with the pressure, [expletive] fighting, go off and do something else."

UFC 228 will also serve as the first opportunity for Montano to defend her title after becoming the first ever women's strawweight champion last December.

Montano might be the reigning queen at 125 pounds, but she's actually walking into her fight against Shevchenko as a heavy underdog.

Rather than put Shevchenko on a pedestal as an unbeatable foe, Montano prefers to put her in the same category as every other opponent she's ever defeated.

"She's a human, just like any other person, so she's beatable," Montano said.

"This fight, after I beat Shevchenko, it's just going to show people that, and like my true people that are inspired by me, no matter what the odds are, you can still come out successful and victorious."

The fight against Montano comes almost exactly one year after Shevchenko fell short in her previous goal to become champion when she took on Amanda Nunes with the bantamweight title on the line.

This time around, Shevchenko is finally facing someone her own size, but that doesn't mean she's somehow underestimating Montano going into UFC 228.

"The biggest difference is this time I will fight in my weight class. I will not have fight with some opponent bigger than me, heavier than me, and like I say every time, I was facing an opponent up at 135 [pounds]. So this time, it will be the exact same size opponent as me so I think this will be the biggest difference between that time and this time," Shevchenko said.

"Every time I'm preparing for my fights, it doesn't matter who is the opponent and what will be the fight, I'm preparing 100 percent. I will be ready for the fight."