Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight veterans Ricardo Lamas and Darren Elkins will collide this Saturday (Nov. 17, 2018) inside Parque Roca Arena in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
One year ago, Lamas was ranked the third best fighter at 145 pounds, trying to earn a second title shot. A pair of losses to nasty up-and-comers hurt, though, sending Lamas down about 10 positions in the rankings. Now, “The Bully” will look to avoid three consecutive defeats and enter 2019 in the win column. Elkins’ six-fight win streak unfortunately came to an end over the summer, as “The Damage” was unable to perform any miraculous rallies opposite Alexander Volkanovski despite his best efforts. Like his foe, Elkins is looking to hop back on the horse and start a new win streak.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Cub Swanson (UFC on FOX 1), Dennis Bermudez (UFC 180), Charles Oliveira (UFC Fight Night 98), Hacran Dias (UFC Fight Night 44)
Key Losses: Jose Aldo (UFC 169), Max Holloway (UFC 199), Chad Mendes (UFC Fight Night 63), Josh Emmett (UFC on FOX 26), Mirsad Bektic (UFC 225)
Keys to Victory: Lamas has fought nothing but the division’s best for years now. A well-rounded wrestler with sneaky power and underrated submissions, Lamas is the definition of a crafty vet.
Crafty vet is also a very apt description of his opponent, though, as both men are in similar positions.
Opposite Elkins, the biggest challenge is choosing when to engage. He’s generally there to be hit, and less experienced fighters are far too willing to take advantage: watch Mirsad Bektic land hard shots at every possible opportunity until he was dead tired. Lamas has to manage his energy carefully to win here.
Lamas’ best bet is to use his speed advantage to maintain distance and force Elkins to come forward. He has a strong jab and kicking game, so scoring points from range should not be too difficult for “The Bully.” If he can land those distance attacks and then circle off before Elkins can fire back, Lamas should be able to build a lead without overexerting himself.
Key Wins: Mirsad Bektic (UFC 209), Michael Johnson (UFC Fight Night 124), Dennis Bermudez (UFC on FOX 25), Chas Skelly (UFC 196), Hatsu Hioki (UFC Fight Night 27)
Key Losses: Chad Mendes (UFC on FOX 7), Alexander Volkanovski (UFC Fight Night 133), Jeremy Stephens (UFC on FOX 10), Hacran Dias (UFC Fight Night 58)
Keys to Victory: Since relocating to Team Alpha Male, Elkins has made the most of his endless conditioning and grit. Now a more effective offensive fighter, Elkins still pushed a ridiculous pace and attempts to drown foes in the deep waters: he just does more damage in the process.
Opposite Lamas, this becomes a question of volume and successful takedowns for “The Damage.” Lamas may be the faster striker, but he doesn’t hit nearly as hard as Elkins’ recent opponents, and their power never stopped Elkins from pushing the pace. At range, I’d like to see Elkins pressuring hard, throwing combinations, and ending them with a hard left body kick, one of his better strikes.
Once Lamas is near the fence, Elkins should drive him to it and shoot. If the takedown lands, that’s fantastic. If not, Lamas’ speed edge is of little use in the clinch, a range where Elkins can grind endlessly and score points both for control and small strikes landed.
Bottom Line: It’s likely to be a competitive match up between veterans comfortable in all areas of the game and able to push a hard pace for three rounds.
Both men are in a very similar situation, career-wise. Both men are in their mid-30s and coming off defeats to younger contenders, a difficult situation to rebound from. At the same time, their skills, experience, and unique attributes — Lamas’ opportunism and Elkins’ pure toughness — still make them top-tier Featherweights.
The two currently hold down the No. 13 and No. 14 spots in the rankings, so neither is likely to gain or lose more than a spot there. The consequences, though, are pretty simple: The winning man will have a chance to look up the rankings for his next match, whereas the defeated fighter is likely relegated to gate-keeping opposite would-be Top 15 fighters.
At UFC Fight Night 140, Ricardo Lamas and Darren Elkins will square off in the co-main event. Which man will earn the victory?