Darren Elkins will look to start his year off with a win Saturday when he takes on Jeremy Stephens in a featherweight contest at UFC on Fox 10.
Ahead of the bout, Elkins joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss his opponent, his status in the 145-pound division and more.
On his loss last year to Chad Mendes: “I think it set me back for sure. That was the reward if you take that fight -- it was a short-notice fight, but if you beat the No. 1 contender, guess what? You’re right there for the No. 1 contender. Now you’re right there for the title. It was kind of like the fast track to the title fight. I have a loss. I came back and then I won. I’m still in the top 10, but I’ve got to have a couple more wins, I think, before I’m in that title fight.”
On whether he’d take the fight again if he could do it over: “Yeah, not a doubt about it. I would do it all again. Same circumstances and everything, I’d do it again. You’ve got to be willing to risk it all sometimes to get the rewards you want. Obviously I didn’t perform like I wanted. I went out there and I got knocked out pretty quickly. I didn’t feel like I fought very well, but you have to risk things in this sport to get what you want.”
On whether he’d like to fight Mendes again: “I definitely want it again. I think I’m going to have to earn it, but I think if I keep winning, I think I’ll be in that situation. I hope we fight again. I want to prove that I’m a better fighter than what I showed in there.”
On Stephens: “I think that there’s a lot of talk about Jeremy Stephens at 145, or featherweight. Obviously, yeah, he did have three losses [in a row], but it was before he dropped down to featherweight. He lost to like [Anthony] Pettis. I mean, he had a real close decision with Pettis. That fight was a real close fight and he’s the champion now. And then he had a good one his first fight at featherweight and then he had a quick knockout his last one. I think there’s a lot of hype behind him at featherweight.”
On whether Stephens has the same power at 145: “I think for everybody it’s different. I think it depends on the weight cut, how much mass you’re taking away. If you have a little bit more muscle, you can throw a little bit harder punches. Most of it I think is God-given talent. I think overall he’s going to still have that big-punch knockout [power]. I think he’s going to probably be one of the heavier hitters in the featherweight division. I think power-wise, it helps him out.”
On the matchup: “I’m not going to be afraid to trade punches with him, but obviously the focus in the camp is working on defense more. That’s the one thing I learned from the Mendes fight is I left myself open when I was trying to go for a punch and he countered off of it. I dropped my hands for a second, and he landed that big overhand right and put me to sleep. … I think it could be an exciting fight. I think we both are going to come out there swinging and pushing a hard pace. He’s been doing a lot of grappling lately in his fights, so I think it’s going to be a grind type of fight and we’re going to see who can break each other’s will.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 2:36:10).