NEW YORK -- UFC 244's co-main event should go on as planned Saturday night at Madison Square Garden after Darren Till arrived in New York following visa issues.
UFC announced Wednesday that Till had a "delay in travel" from his native England and would not be available to speak to the media until Friday. He arrived Thursday and will compete Saturday in the middleweight clash against Kelvin Gastelum.
For Saturday cards, UFC usually requires fighters to check in to the host city on the Tuesday before. Till did not respond to ESPN's request for comment. UFC said he would address the media Friday afternoon. The news of Till's issues was first reported by Talk MMA.
As a backup plan, UFC had tapped top middleweight Jared Cannonier as a potential replacement for Till, sources confirmed to ESPN after an initial report from Terez Owens. Cannonier is in New York and cutting weight down to the 186-pound limit as a precautionary measure.
However, Gastelum said Wednesday after UFC 244 workouts at MSG's Hulu Theatre that he would not fight Cannonier if Till was unable to make the bout. It's Till or bust for Gastelum.
"I just don't think it's fair for me to fight on two days' notice," Gastelum said. "Of course, I will fight anybody, but give me time to prepare for that person."
Gastelum said UFC informed him earlier this week that Till was having visa issues and then a day later he said he was told that Till would be in New York to fight. He said he would have been more open to fight Cannonier as a backup if he had more time to get ready for him.
"Like I said, I can't take a fight like that against a Cannonier in two days' notice, guys," Gastelum said. "Give me some time to prepare for an elite guy like that. I've been preparing for Darren Till and that's who I'm here to fight."
Gastelum (15-4, 1 NC) has previously dealt with opponent fight-week withdrawals. The California native was supposed to fight for the UFC middleweight title against Robert Whittaker at UFC 234 in February, but Whittaker pulled out on the day of the bout because of emergency hernia surgery. Gastelum, 28, went on to fight Israel Adesanya for the interim title at UFC 236 in April, falling by unanimous decision.
Gastelum vs. Till would have serious middleweight title implications and Gastelum vs. Cannonier would have even more. Gastelum is ranked No. 3 in the division by ESPN, and Cannonier is No. 6. Till is a former welterweight title contender moving up a division.
"As long as he gets here," Gastelum said of Till, "then I'm OK with it."