After stopping Antonio Carvalho on March 16 at UFC 158, Darren Elkins will have to make a quick turnaround for his April 20 meeting with Chad Mendes at UFC on Fox 7.
He’ll be replacing Clay Guida, who dropped out of the bout with Mendes due to an injury.
“I think a fight like this, you can get your mind back in it,” Elkins told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “This is a great opportunity for me. It’s not going to take a whole lot of motivation just because I’ve got an opportunity to put myself -- if I beat Chad Mendes, that puts me right there in the title hunt. It’s a big opportunity, and I’m definitely going to rise up to the occasion.”
Elkins has won five straight in the UFC. His recent win over Carvalho ended controversially, however, when referee Yves Lavigne called the bout after Elkins had dropped his opponent with a straight right 3:06 into the first round.
“He was definitely hurt,” Elkins said. “When he fell down, I think Yves maybe thought he wasn’t going to get back up. He kind of sprung up. How fast he sprung up was a little bit of a shock after watching it, but I was right there. I think he would have took some more damage, but it’s one of those things where you never know.”
Against Mendes, Elkins thinks he’ll have to use his hands again, despite his and Mendes’ wrestling backgrounds.
“I think standup’s going to be used a lot in there,” Elkins said. “I think we’re both probably going to mix it up well, both use our wrestling, maybe dirty boxing, cage work. I’m sure we’ll both attempt some takedowns. … Hopefully I stop his takedowns. I’m sure he’s going to probably try to stop some of my takedowns, and we’re going to have to stand and bang some too.”
Elkins believes the fight will be “a lot of little battles.” While he’s on a one-month turnaround, Mendes fought last in December when he knocked out Yaotzin Meza. Elkins will have to refocus himself quickly for what should be the toughest test of his career.
“My cardio’s not going to be faded,” Elkins said. “My strength’s going to be there. My weight’s good. I don’t have to worry about all that stuff right off the bat. It’s there already because I’m coming straight off that fight. The harder part of this camp is I’ve got to focus on the strategy. Obviously Mendes is a differently style than Carvalho. I’ve got to really, the next few weeks, just really focus on the strategy and game plan for Chad Mendes.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:02:59).