Darren Elkins: The Most Unlikely Featherweight Contender

By Adam Martin

If you haven’t heard of Darren Elkins, it’s for a good reason.

The 28-year-old native of Indiana, who battles featherweight Antonio Carvalho on the UFC 158 undercard, has fought six times in the UFC, and of those six fights, only one time has he been featured on television, a three-round decision victory over Diego Brandao at UFC 146 that was the main event of that event’s FX prelims.

Of his five other fights, three were on Facebook, and two weren’t available to watch live at all. So there’s a reason why only the hardcores only know who he is.

However, don’t look now, but Elkins is quickly climbing the UFC featherweight rankings.

With four straight victories, there’s no doubt that Elkins has been on a roll. In fact, the only other fighters currently riding four-fight win streaks in the UFC featherweight division are the champion Jose Aldo, Ricardo Lamas, and Cub Swanson.

Sure, Elkins’ win over Michihiro Omigawa at UFC 131 was extremely controversial, and he really should be on a three-fight win streak, but the fact of the matter is the judges gave him the nod, and he’s proven his worth by winning his three fights since then.

A grinder, Elkins prefers to use his takedowns to take his opponents to the ground and use his solid wrestling base in order to control his fights. And it’s worked wonders so far for him, as his four-fight win streak shows, and a win over Carvalho this weekend would be huge for his career, because a five-fight win streak in a loaded division would be nothing to scoff at.

But the same reason he has been winning his fights has been the same reason why the UFC has refused to promote him. Despite the fact he has a nice win streak, he has no stoppage victories during that time frame, and to be completely honest, most of his fights have been rather boring.

Still, he’s getting his hand raised consistently, and that should be the most important thing – and I think that’s the reason why the UFC is airing his fight against Carvalho on the FX prelims, rather than on Facebook.

It would be nice to see Elkins really hunker down on Saturday night and look for the finish — although Carvalho will be tough to stop. This is because only a stoppage win will absolutely ensure that the UFC continues to push him up the ladder, since no one wants to watch decision fighters, even if he deserves it based on the merit of his wins in the cage.

In many ways, Elkins’ career path reminds me of Jon Fitch, who kept winning, but whose perceived boring fighting style kept him from getting the push to the top until the UFC was absolutely forced to give him a crack at the title.

If Elkins does get a finish at UFC 158, expect to see him in the cage with a top 10 opponent next, and then we’ll really get to see whether or not the full-time fighter/part-time steam fitter is for real or not.

UFC 158: St. Pierre vs. Diaz is due to take place on March 16, 2013 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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