Never count out Darren Elkins.
The Team Alpha Male standout pulled off a comeback for the ages, as he dispatched Mirsad Bektic with punches in the third round of their UFC 209 “Woodley vs. Thompson 2” prelim on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Elkins (22-5, 12-4 UFC) brought it to a close 3:19 into Round 3.
Viewed by many as a future champion, Bektic (11-1, 4-1 UFC) spent the entire first round putting a hellacious beating on the Indiana native. By the time the first five minutes were up, Elkins was bleeding from multiple cuts, including a gnarly gash above his right eyebrow. However, he refused to go away, and his persistence paid. Bektic dropped down a gear in the second round and slowed further in the third. There, Elkins scrambled behind him along the fence and uncorked a burst of right hands and a head kick that resulted in the shocking finish (online betting).
The 32-year-old Elkins has won four fights in a row.
Tybura Bullies, Vanquishes Oliveira
Former M-1 Global champion Marcin Tybura took care of Tata Fight Team’s Luis Henrique Barbosa de Oliveira with third-round punches in a preliminary heavyweight tilt. Oliveira (10-3, 2-2 UFC) met his end 3:46 into Round 3.
Tybura (15-2, 2-1 UFC) held off the Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt in the clinch, outstruck him on the feet and waited for an opportunity to close the deal. He rattled Oliveira with a front kick to the face and overhand right early in the third round, freed himself from an attempted guillotine choke and climbed to the back. Soon after, Tybura advanced to full mount and let the punches and elbows fall until referee Herb Dean was forced to intervene.
The 31-year-old Tybura has won three of his last four fights.
Alcantara Kneebar Submits Sanders
Iuri Alcantara submitted previously unbeaten MMA Lab export Luke Sanders with a kneebar in the second round of their undercard pairing at 135 pounds. Alcantara (34-7, 9-4 UFC) coaxed the tapout 3:13 into Round 2, as he recorded his sixth victory in eight appearances.
Sanders (11-1, 1-1 UFC) will remember it as a missed opportunity. The onetime Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion nearly finished it in the first round, where he struck for a takedown, advanced to the top ride and cut loose with punches and hammerfists. However, Sanders fired off an illegal knee strike with the Brazilian huddled on the ground, the foul costing him a point and valuable momentum.
It appeared as though the middle stanza would play out in much the same manner -- until Alcantara rolled into the kneebar, went belly down and pulled off the submission.
Godbeer Outduels Winded Spitz
Former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion Mark Godbeer won for the fourth time in five outings, as he took a unanimous decision from Daniel Spitz in a preliminary heavyweight clash. Godbeer (12-3, 1-1 UFC) swept the scorecards with identical 30-27 marks.
A short-notice fill-in for Tudd Duffee, Spitz (5-1, 0-1 UFC) ran out of gas in the second round and became weary and stationary, making him an easy target for the powerful Godbeer. The Englishman peppered Spitz with leg kicks and power punches from distance and smacked him around in the clinch with knees and uppercuts, slowly but surely breaking the Sikjitsu rep’s spirit.
Unbeaten Pedro Mauls Craig
Blue-chip Australian prospect Tyson Pedro disposed of former British Association of Mixed Martial Arts champion Paul Craig with a volley of first-round elbows in a preliminary light heavyweight affair. Craig (9-1, 1-1 UFC) succumbed to blows 4:10 into Round 1.
Pedro (6-0, 2-0 UFC) welcomed the Scotsman into the clinch and blasted him with standing elbow strikes upstairs and knees to the body. The 25-year-old later floored Craig with a straight right hand and capitalized on a failed head-and-arm throw. Pedro quickly advanced to half guard once they hit the canvas, moved to a topside crucifix and smashed Craig with elbows until referee Marc Goddard had seen enough.
The undefeated Pedro has finished all six of his opponents in the first round.
Morales Slows Newcomer Soukhamthath
Black House prospect Albert Morales spoiled the promotional debut of Andre Soukhamthath, as he eked out a split decision over the CES MMA champion in a three-round undercard battle at 135 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28: Sal D’Amato and Dave Hagen for Morales, Patricia Morse Jarman for Soukhamthath.
Morales (7-1-1, 1-1-1 UFC) leaned on punishing leg kicks and stinging jabs but lost his way in the second round, where he wound up on his back eating ground-and-pound from the Octagon newcomer. He withstood a ferocious body attack from Soukhamthath (11-4, 0-1 UFC) early in Round 3 and countered an ill-conceived takedown attempt by wheeling to the back and securing position with a body triangle. Morales threatened with a rear-naked choke, bled the remaining time off the clock and did enough to warrant the decision.
The loss snapped Soukhamthath’s three-fight winning streak.