Darren Elkins can now point to a signature victory.
Takedowns, ground-and-pound and multi-punch combinations punctuated by sharp right hands carried Elkins to a unanimous decision over former Shooto and Sengoku champion Hatsu Hioki at UFC Fight Night 27 “Condit vs. Kampmann 2” on Wednesday at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Elkins (17-3, 7-2 UFC) swept the scorecards by identical 29-28 marks.
Hioki (26-7-2, 2-3 UFC) started strong and faded late. The Japanese star had Elkins reeling in the first round, where a series of body kicks doubled over the Duneland Vale Tudo export. Elkins weathered the attack and found another gear over the final 10 minutes. The 29-year-old Hobart, Ind., native struck for takedowns in the second and third rounds, unleashed his ground-and-pound and generally made life miserable for Hioki on the bottom.
“I have family that has never gotten to see me fight in the UFC,” Elkins said. “They all got to make the trip this time, so I’m really happy about it. I fed off the energy. I feel like the mental game is my strong point. Some physical things I make up for with my mental game and my conditioning.
“I thought I fought good,” he added. “He hit me with a couple of hard body kicks in the first, and I recovered. I pushed hard and figured if I could push the whole time that I could break him. It worked out in my favor.”
Elkins has won six of his last seven fights, establishing himself as a serious player at 145 pounds.
“I’d like another guy who is top-rated [next],” he said. “I want to work my way back into the title talk. I think if I win one or two more fights, I’ll be right back in there, but they’ve got to be big fights.”
Andrews Uppercuts Dispatch Abedi
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 alum Dylan Andrews wiped out Papy Abedi with a barrage of third-round uppercuts and follow-up punches in an undercard tilt at 170 pounds. Andrews (17-4, 2-0 UFC), who appeared to suffer a left arm injury in the first round, sealed it 92 seconds into round three.
Abedi (9-3, 1-3 UFC) controlled much of the opening 10 minutes with trip takedowns, leg kicks and the occasional power punch. However, Andrews turned the tide in a blink. He staggered the judoka with a right cross and then clipped him with a trio of uppercuts, sending Abedy to the ground in a prone position. From there, the finish was a formality, as a series of unanswered blows brought referee Herb Dean into the equation.
“I think when he tossed me in the first, I landed wrong on my shoulder,” Andrews said. “I heard a crack. I’m sorry about my performance. After my shoulder went in the first, I found it hard. My uppercut is my money shot. If I can just land it, I can usually set a lot of good things up from there.”
Newcomer Thatch Buries Edwards in 83 Seconds
Grudge Training Center prospect Brandon Thatch put away Justin Edwards with a violent volley of first-round strikes in a preliminary welterweight encounter. Thatch (10-1, 1-0 UFC) drew the bout to a close 83 seconds into round one, wowing the crowd in his promotional debut.
Edwards (8-3, 2-3 UFC) never had a chance. Thatch caught him in a level change inside the first 30 seconds, floored him with a head kick and pursued the finish from there. The 28-year-old Denver native threw Edwards around the cage like a dog with a bone, drilling him with blistering knees to the head and body. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 13 graduate folded under the barrage and covered up on the ground, as Thatch closed him out with punches and hammerfists.
“I’ve been here 1,000 times in my dreams, but it’s never been anything like this,” Thatch said. “This is amazing. I think I peed a little bit. I knew he was kind of a bully in the fact that he will come out real strong and put you against the cage. I was just waiting for that level to drop, and I did what I do best.”
Thatch has won nine consecutive fights, all of them first-round finishes.
“I feel pressure every time I fight,” he said. “If you don’t feel pressure and you’re not nervous, then you’re underestimating your opponent. This is the best fighting organization in the world, and it was nothing different.”
High Guillotine Finishes Head
American Top Team’s Jason High submitted James Head with a first-round guillotine choke in a preliminary welterweight affair. Head (9-4, 2-3 UFC) tapped out 1:41 into round one.
High (17-4, 1-2 UFC) swept the Oklahoman off his feet with a quick takedown, tagged him with a pair of standing-to-ground left hands and cinched the guillotine as Head tried to return to his feet. “The Kansas City Bandit” transitioned to a mounted guillotine, withstood a frantic struggle from his opponent and finished it there.
“I just kind of grabbed his neck and squeezed, and he tapped out,” High said. “Actually, I’m good for one of those a day. I’m not going to lie. I didn’t get any in the warm-up, so that was my present to him.”
Cummings Choke Submits Alloway
“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 17 alum Zak Cummings submitted Ben Alloway with a first-round brabo choke in an undercard tilt at 170 pounds. Alloway (12-5, 1-2 UFC) conceded defeat 4:19 into round one.
Cummings (16-3, 1-0 UFC) struck for a pair of takedowns, dodged an attempted guillotine and answered with the brabo choke. Confident in his position, the 29-year-old Irving, Texas, native adjusted his grip and secured the tapout. Cummings has delivered six wins in his last seven appearances.
Trujillo’s Illegal Knee Leads to No-Contest
An illegal knee strike from Blackzilians representative Abel Trujillo resulted in a premature and controversial conclusion to his preliminary lightweight scrap with Roger Bowling. The bout was ruled a no-contest 4:57 into round two despite the fact that referee Rob Hinds deducted a point for the blow in question, indicating intent.
Trujillo (10-5, 1-1 UFC) wheeled around to his opponent’s back in a closely contested first round, escaping a late guillotine choke attempt. Bowling (11-4, 0-1 UFC) appeared to be turning a corner in round two, as he gained an upper hand in the exchanges with a tiring foe. After succumbing to a takedown, Trujillo freed himself from a rear-naked choke and belted a kneeling Bowling with a pair of knees, one to the chest and one to the head. Once the cageside physician informed Hinds that Bowling had been knocked out by the strike, the bout was called.