Fighter of the Week: Darren Elkins
Darren “The Damage” Elkins
Pro Record: 22 wins & 5 losses
Association: Duneland Vale Tudo/Team Alpha Male
Weight Class: Lightweight/Featherweight
The sport of MMA continues to amaze me… specifically fighters like Darren Elkins. Just when you think you have it all figured out or when you are watching a complete dominating performance by a heavy favorite in Mirsad Bektic, the huge underdog Elkins goes and pulls off a monster upset in come from behind fashion proving how volatile the sport can be and how you can never really count a fighter out until it’s over. Elkins also proved he is tough as nails with a strong chin and resilient spirit and deserved to be the focus of this week’s FOTW article.
Elkins comes from a modest wrestling background where he won a High School State Championship as a senior in Indiana and went on to wrestle at Division II University of Wisconsin-Parkside for two years. Elkins would join Duneland Vale Tudo co-founder, former UFC fighter, and longtime friend, Keith Wisniewski to begin his MMA career in 2007. He would compile a 10-1 record in smaller promotions to include C3 and TFC, before being signed by the UFC for UFC Live 1 in March of 2010.
Elkins would win by TKO in his first UFC fight at UFC Live 1 against Duane Ludwig, who had to stop after getting taken down by Elkins early in the 1st round and sustaining an ankle injury. Elkins would come back just three months later for UFC Live 2 only to lose by Submission (Armbar) to Charles Oliveira at 41 seconds in the 1st round. Elkins would go on a modest 5-fight win streak in the Octagon and be a late replacement for an injured Clay Guida and face Chad Mendes. Unfortunately, this would be another fight Elkins would lose quickly getting KO’d by Mendes early in the 1st round. Elkins would then alternate wins and losses his next four bouts before winning three fights in a row. Prior to his Decision win vs. Lucas Martins at UFC 179, Elkins would earn his 2nd stripe on his brown belt under Jeff Neal & Carlos Gracie BJJ. Elkins would take a huge step forward in his MMA career prior to his UFC 197 win moving with his family to California to train with Team Alpha Male. A move Elkins said was required in order to “up his game”.
Elkins would take a 3-fight win streak into UFC 209 and his fight with highly touted undefeated fighter, Mirsad Bektic, who some publications had as their #1 prospect in all of MMA just a couple of years ago and many believe is a future title challenger. Despite Elkins toughness and being the #14 ranked fighter in the UFC Featherweight rankings, he came into the fight with Bektic as a huge underdog. It didn’t take long to see why either as Bektic opened up the 1st round in dominating fashion completely overwhelming and battering Elkins on the ground and leaving Elkins face bloody and bruised. All three judges scored the 1st round 10-8 for Bektic. It was much of the same in the 2nd round, although not quite as dominant for Bektic, but he still easily won the round 10-9 on all scorecards. Elkins needed an improbable finish to win this fight going into the 3rd. Elkins later admitted he was “going to go for broke”, knowing he was down big on the scorecards, and that’s exactly what he did. He attempted two unsuccessful submissions but then hit a tired Bektic with a right hand and a kick to the face to end it absolutely erupting the crowd at the T-Mobile arena, who had continuously cheered Elkins for his resilience and heart during the fight. That finish would not only net Elkins a $50K bonus for Performance of the Night but also ranks very high on the most incredible comebacks in MMA history. This epic come from behind win also puts Elkins on a 3-fight win streak under the tutelage of Team Alpha Male and a 4-fight win streak over all. If this fight proved nothing else it showed Elkins has the heart of a champion and the UFC’s Featherweight division should not take him lightly and he can never be counted out.