Rivalries: Darren Elkins

By Brian Knapp Jul 23, 2021


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Darren Elkins built his success on an ability to withstand abuse and outlast opponents.

The 37-year-old Team Alpha Male export will lock horns with Darrick Minner in a UFC on ESPN 27 featherweight showcase this Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Elkins owns a 15-8 record in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, his run highlighted by victories over Dennis Bermudez, Hatsu Hioki and Duane Ludwig. He last appeared at UFC on ESPN 17, where he submitted Luiz Eduardo Garagorri with a rear-naked choke in the third round of their Nov. 7 confrontation. The win snapped his career-worst four-fight losing streak.

As Elkins makes final preparations for his three-round battle with Minner, a look at a few of the rivalries that have helped shape his career:

Chad Mendes


Mendes wrecked the durable Duneland Vale Tudo representative with a barrage of punches in the first round of their UFC on Fox 7 showcase on April 20, 2013 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. Elkins, who entered the cage on a five-fight winning streak and had never before lost at 145 pounds, lasted just 68 seconds. The Portage, Indiana, native never established a foothold in the match, his situation unraveling rapidly. Mendes staggered him with a right hook to the temple, floored him with another and finished it with a series of unanswered lefts on the ground. For Elkins, the loss established a clear ceiling within the featherweight division. He was more gatekeeper than contender.

Jeremy Stephens


Heavy power punches, thudding leg kicks and airtight takedown defense carried the Alliance MMA mainstay to a unanimous decision over Elkins in their UFC on Fox 10 featherweight feature on Jan. 25, 2014 at the United Center in Chicago. All three cageside judges scored it for Stephens: 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27. “Lil Heathen” spent the better part of two rounds battering his counterpart with left hooks, right uppercuts and kicks to the lower extremities. Elkins whiffed on all nine of his takedown attempts, unable to improve his chances by getting his standup-oriented opponent on the ground. He made one final pass at victory in the last minute of the fight, as he wobbled Stephens with a left hook and threatened him with a series of chokes. However, the finish Elkins needed never developed, the loss pushing him further down the pecking order at 145 pounds.

Mirsad Bektic


Elkins pulled off a comeback for the ages, as he dispatched Bektic with punches in the third round of their UFC 209 showdown on March 4, 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “The Damage” brought it to a close 3:19 into Round 3. Viewed by many as a future champion, Bektic 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 huge dividends. 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.

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Michael Johnson


Team Alpha Male’s Elkins submitted Johnson with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 124 pairing on Jan. 14, 2018 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Johnson raised the white flag 2:22 into Round 2, letting what felt like a surefire victory slip through his fingers. Johnson picked apart the notoriously sturdy Portage, Indiana, native with punches throughout a lopsided opening stanza, cutting loose in multi-strike bursts and body-head combinations while employing an effective sprawl. “The Menace” outlanded Elkins by a 43-15 margin and denied all three of his attempted takedowns across the first five minutes. It was not enough. Elkins delivered a takedown less than a minute into the second round, chipped away with elbows from half guard and ultimately scrambled to the back. He secured his position with a body triangle, cinched the rear-naked choke and forced the tap. Advertisement
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