Darren Elkins: Wrestling is “Definitely the Advantage I Have” Over UFC 146 Opponent Diego Brandao
By Kelsey Mowatt
While Darren Elkins won’t head into his next fight with the title of “Ultimate Fighter” winner like his opponent Diego Brandao, the veteran is coming off some notable wins in his own right. Having scored decision wins over Michihiro Omigawa and Tiequan Zhang in 2011, Elkins will look to make another high profile statement in the UFC featherweight division on May 26th, by handing Brandao his first Octagon defeat.
“I was excited,” said Elkins, while discussing his reaction to finding out that he would fight Brandao at UFC 146. “He’s coming off a win on “The Ultimate Fighter”, winning the show, so he has a lot of momentum and he’s exciting to watch. I think it’s going to be a fun fight for me.”
“Obviously I’ve got some momentum going for me,” Elkins added. “I’ve got two in a row now at 145 and he’s coming off the win on “The Ultimate Fighter”, so he’s got some momentum too.”
Although Elkins (13-2) has been competing in the UFC since March, 2010, and has put together a record of 3-1 with the promotion, the Duneland Vale Tudo fighter understands that Brandao may be a more familiar name with mainstream fans.
“I’m sure for a lot of people he’s going to be the favorite fighter,” Elkins recently told FCF, when asked whether he believes some people may be overlooking him considering Brandao’s recent run on TUF. “He comes out with a lot of intensity and a lot of people like him. He has a bigger fanbase than I do, so I think some people on paper might be expecting him to win over me.”
“The Ultimate Fighter has a big fanbase,” Elkins furthered. “And a lot of people watch that and form a better connection than just watching someone fight.”
During Brandao’s time on the 14th season of TUF, the Greg Jackson trained fighter advanced through the competition with three consecutive knockout victories, before submitting Dennis Bermudez in the show’s finale.
“Obviously you have to stay away from his overhand right; that’s his big power punch,” Elkins noted. “I don’t want to give away too much of my game-plan, but I have to avoid his power and stay out of his submissions.”
One of the deciding factors in the bout could be if Brandao is able to negate or counter the wrestling skills of Elkins.
“I think I have the more extensive wrestling background,” Elkins noted. “I’m a state champion wrestler and I wrestled in college some. I think it’s definitely the advantage I have.”
The only man to defeat Elkins since he signed with the UFC is Charles Oliveira, who submitted him with a first round armbar at a UFC Live card last August. At the time, both men were competing in the lightweight division.
“Right before I signed with the UFC I was thinking about dropping down to 145,” Elkins relayed. “I was talking to my manager and told him I wanted to fight at 145, but instead, I got the call to fight Duane Ludwig. Obviously fighting in the UFC is everybody’s dream, and I had fought at 155 up until that point anyways, so I felt like it’s a great opportunity.”
“When they added the 145 division I was talking to Joe Silva at the time, emailed back-and-forth, and told him I wanted to move to 145.”
If Elkins can record his third consecutive victory in the featherweight division, and do so over a rising commodity like Brandao, one would think that he will face an even more established fighter next.
“I don’t really think a lot about that; top ten, top five, I just take it one fight at a time,” Elkins said. “I try to get a win, and after the fight I’ll take a look and talk it over with the UFC and they’ll tell me where they think I’m at.”