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UFC Fight Night 124 results from last night: Darren Elkins vs Michael Johnson fight recap

MMA: UFC Fight Night-St. Louis-Elkins vs Johnson  Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight fighters Darren Elkins and Michael Johnson squared off last night (Jan. 14, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 124 inside Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

The last two years have been the best of Elkins’ career. Since moving to Team Alpha Male, Elkins’ skills have grown quite a bit, while his famous grit and conditioning have remained a major strength. He entered last night’s bout on a five-fight win streak, hoping to take one step closer to a title shot. Meanwhile, Johnson proved himself as a Top 10-ranked Lightweight by fighting the absolute best the division had to offer. Unfortunately, he didn’t always win those fights, leading to Johnson to seek greener pastures at 145 pounds.

Johnson showed his speed advantage early, shucking takedowns and firing fast shots towards Elkins’ jawline. Elkins connected with a few body kicks, but Johnson’s left hand was finding a home repeatedly in the opening couple minutes. His hands had never looked better, but Elkins managed to avoid eating anything too devastating.

With about two minutes remaining, Johnson slowed down just a touch. He was still the sharper man, but Elkins was able to land a few shots of his own. However, Johnson still landed some very hard counter shots, and he managed to stuff each of Elkins’ attempts to bring the fight to the mat.

The opening five minutes were some of Johnson’s cleanest striking in his UFC career.

Elkins managed to catch a kick and convert it into a takedown immediately to start the second round. From the half guard, Elkins weighed heavy on his opponent and began dropping some pretty heavy strikes while maintaining his pressure. When Elkins moved into a crucifix, Johnson bucked and scrambled. In the process, Elkins grabbed a front head lock, snapped him down, and spun to the back mount. He locked in a body triangle as Johnson tried to stand, sucking him back down to the mat.

Once in back mount, Elkins worked quickly. He smacked at Johnson’s face a few times, but it wasn’t long before Elkins began to sink his forearm under the neck. Using a palm-to-palm grip, Elkins hipped in and sunk in the submission, quickly forcing his opponent to tap out.

This was classic Elkins. Early on, Johnson’s speed and technical kickboxing saw him piece Elkins up, but Elkins is never deterred. Before long, his persistence saw him gain top position, and he was able to capitalize on his grappling advantage once there.

Determination and toughness have been a common theme for Elkins since the beginning of his career, but in the past it wasn’t consistently enough. In fights like his match with Jeremy Stephens, for example, Elkins survived to the final bell but was never able to throw his opponent off his game and make something happen.

The switch to Team Alpha Male is clearly the difference for Elkins. Even while getting picked apart, Elkins was still in the pocket doing damage. He landed at least five hard right kicks to the mid-section, and Elkins clubbed his opponent with a hard right hand a few times as well. His output wasn’t enough to out-land Johnson by any means, but it ensured that he was hurting his opponent at least a bit and making him use up that gas tank.

As someone who has trained with Elkins, I can say that every time he does touch you, it hurts. It doesn’t have to be a pretty combination or perfectly set up kick, but even if you block it his force is going to make an impact.

This makes it six victories in a row for Elkins, and he asked for a title eliminator bout. Based on his current win streak, “The Damage” should receive one. As for Johnson, this was always a tough fight for his Featherweight debut. He was always going to pick Elkins apart early on, but Johnson does slow a little bit as the fight wears on even when fighting at 155 pounds. He never gassed, but Johnson definitely lost some steam on his shots after the opening few minutes, allowing Elkins to really get into the fight.

Additionally, Johnson’s game from his back has always been pretty poor. He’s tough as hell to take down, but once opponent’s get him down they tend to dominate. Once again, that problem was on display for Johnson and will continue to trouble him regardless of weight class.

Last night, Darren Elkins outlasted his opponent and choked him out in the second round. Who should Elkins face next?

For complete UFC Fight Night 124: “Stephens vs. Choi” results and play-by-play, click HERE!

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