Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight standouts Jeremy Stephens and Darren Elkins went to war on the UFC on FOX 10 main card last night (Sat., Jan. 25, 2014) from United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Elkins looked to derail the momentum of "Lil' Heathen," who was undefeated at 145 pounds since cutting down from Lightweight in May 2013. Not to be outdone, Elkins had won six of his previous seven bouts heading into UFC on FOX 10.
Despite a ton of heart, Elkins never had a chance at out striking Stephens. Let's take a look back at "Lil' Heathen's" heavy-hitting performance.
The fight began with Stephens nailing Elkins with two good body kicks. It soon went to the ground where Stephens landed a good elbow. The action stood back up and Elkins looked to clinch against the cage. It didn't work, however, as Stephens' takedown defense was on point during the entire opening frame, which ended with Stephens snapping yet another hard body kick.
The second round kicked off with Elkins landing a hard shot. Stephens responded with one of his own that wobbled Elkins. Stephens' low kicks found a home and Elkins' leg had a sizeable bruise forming Stephens continued to land with his vaunted boxing, prompting Elkins to look for some ill-fated takedown attempts. Elkins landed an overhand right that was met by a good uppercut from Stephens, who finished the round strong by stunning "Damage" with a left hook at the bell.
The final frame started with Stephens continuing to keep out of Elkins' wrestling range. Stephens took he fight to the ground with Elkins looking for a guillotine that never materialized. "Lil' Heathen" was looking for the knockout, both with high kicks and punches. His leg kicks sapped Elkins' power as landed repeated shots.
Stephens was wobbled all of the sudden. He immediately looked to grapple with Elkins, who locked on a tight guillotine that didn't have enough time to finish as the fight came to an end.
Stephens once again proved he's a force at 145 pounds His power striking is top-notch and he's now 3-0 in the talented division. There are some truly entertaining fights available for him. After defeating the No. 10-ranked Elkins, Stephens should gain a spot in the Top 15. He may not be ranked highly enough to gain a bout with the returning Cub Swanson, but that would be an explosive match. "Lil' Heathen" could prove he's a true player at featherweight if he can defeat a another top opponent like Nik Lentz, Clay Guida, or even the returning Conor McGregor.
Elkins didn't land too many shots, but he was an extremely resilient fighter. He ate a plethora of hard, accurate punches that definitely would have ended some of the best featherweights' nights. His main perceived advantage of wrestling simply didn't work in Chicago, and he paid the price for his ineptitude. He'll most likely receive a slight step down in competition.
"Damage's" UFC record is still very strong and he'll be a good gatekeeper for up-and-coming featherweights.
Jeremy Stephens continues to impress at featherweight with his third straight victory. Is he ready to take on the best fighters the division has to offer?