Rivalries: Tim Elliott

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Tim Elliott has played many roles in the mixed martial arts food chain, from prospect and contender to gatekeeper and journeyman.

The Glory MMA export will look to improve his standing as a Top 10 flyweight inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship when he faces Matheus Nicolau in a UFC Fight Night 194 showcase on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Elliott enters the Octagon on the strength of a modest two-fight winning streak. The 34-year-old Wichita, Kansas, native last appeared at UFC 259, where he took a unanimous decision from Jordan Espinosa on March 6.

As Elliott makes final preparations for his confrontation with Nicolau, a look at some of the rivalries that have helped shape his career:

John Dodson

“The Ultimate Fighter” Season 14 winner escaped an ultra-competitive encounter with Elliott on May 5, 2012, as he earned a unanimous decision over the promotional newcomer in their three-round UFC on Fox 3 pairing at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Dodson swept the scorecards by identical 29-28 counts, despite the fact that he appeared to sustain an injury to his left hand in the first round. A late replacement for Darren Uyenoyama, Elliott acquitted himself well in his first Octagon appearance. As the aggressor throughout, Elliott threw everything he had at “The Magician.” Dodson countered effectively, worked his angles and slammed knees into his opponent’s body. With two rounds seemingly in the bank, Dodson, likely hampered by the inability to use his most trusted weapon, lost his way in the third. Elliott tagged him repeatedly with power shots, standing up the Jackson-Wink MMA representative more than once with stiff left hands. Nevertheless, Dodson survived.

Joseph Benavidez

The Team Alpha Male standout submitted Elliott with a mounted guillotine choke in the featured UFC 172 prelim on April 26, 2014 at the Baltimore Arena. Benavidez drew the curtain 4:08 into Round 1, forcing the Grindhouse MMA product to tap out with his feet. The San Antonio native weather a furious initial surge from Elliott, who struck for two takedowns and corralled him with a rolling crucifix at one point. However, the Resurrection Fighting Alliance veteran’s aggression worked against him following the second takedown. Benavidez slid into top position, set up the guillotine and moved to mount to prompt the stoppage. It was Elliott’s first submission defeat in nearly five years and helped establish his ceiling in the UFC.

Iliarde Santos

Elliott captured the inaugural Titan Fighting Championship flyweight crown with a five-round unanimous decision over the American Top Team export in a TFC 34 co-feature on July 18, 2015 at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. All three cageside judges scored it 50-45. Elliott rebounded from back-to-back-to-back UFC losses to Benavidez, Ali Bagautinov and Zach Makovsky, as he blended clinches with a mixture of strikes, from standing elbows and jumping knees to more traditional punches and kicks. Santos struggled to keep up and saw his best chance at a comeback vanish late in Round 5, where his American counterpart escaped from bottom position and freed himself from potential danger. Elliott went on to defend the title in subsequent appearances against Felipe Efrain and Pedro Nobre before being cast on Season 24 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series—a competition he won to punch his ticket back to the UFC.

Demetrious Johnson

Elliott’s best effort was not nearly good enough against a true all-time great. Johnson scored with takedowns, scrambled into advantageous positions and shredded his opponent’s defenses with unending guard passes, as he retained the Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight crown in “The Ultimate Fighter 24” Finale headliner on Dec. 3, 2016 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Johnson swept the scorecards with 49-46, 49-46 and 49-45 marks from the judges. The five-round fight was not without its share of unexpected drama. Elliott had “Mighty Mouse” in real danger in the first round, where he freed himself from an armbar, caught a tight guillotine and transitioned to a brabo choke. Johnson kept his composure, escaped to his feet and pitched a shutout from there. Elliott emptied his gun in a bid to dethrone the champion, utilizing a quirky standup approach, Donkey Kong hammerfists and even open-handed palm strikes. He was game but ultimately outclassed. Johnson spent the majority of the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds in top position, floating from half guard and side mount to the north-south position, the back and the topside crucifix. Only Elliott’s airtight submission defense prevented the finish, as “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 24 winner withstood the champion’s attempts at rear-naked chokes, straight armbars and kimuras to see the final bell.

Ryan Benoit

“The Ultimate Fighter 24” winner made the most of his co-main event spotlight at UFC on ESPN 13, as he took a unanimous decision from Ryan Benoit in an entertaining three-round battle on July 15, 2020 at the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Scores were 29-28, 29-28 and 29-28, all for Elliott. Benoit was a handful in defeat. The Janjira Muay Thai product got Elliott’s attention with a head kick in the first round and nearly finished him in the second, where he answered a mounted guillotine choke with a tight kneebar that had the former Titan Fighting Championships titleholder in visible distress. However, the sustained offense Benoit needed was often short-circuited by his counterpart’s output and squirrelly movements. Elliott overcame a hand injury in the third round, as he pestered his opponent with a consistent jab and scored with elbows and knees in tight spaces. The win was his first since December 2017, snapped a three-fight losing streak and likely allowed Elliott to keep his spot on the UFC roster. Advertisement

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