Darren Elkins had a shaky first round, but played his game in the last two rounds to take a unanimous decision over Diego Brandao in their featherweight UFC 146 bout. All three judges had it 29-28 for the Indiana native. Brandao was all over him in the first, dropping him and beating him up on the ground to the point where some were calling in a 10-8 round, but it was all Elkins after that except a brief surge from Brandao with a minute to go in the fight.
Brandao missed with a looping right early and Elkins looked for a takedown. After a bit of scrambling, Brandao ended up on top. Elkins looked for a kimura but Brandao escaped and let him up. Brandao landed a huge flying knee and ended up on top in side control, throwing elbows. Brandao tried to advance to mount but got bucked off, and let Elkins up again. Brandao landed a looping left that staggered Elkins and followed up with a couple more big shots. Diego jumped into Elkins' guard with a huge right. Brandao continued to land punches in Elkins' guard for the rest of the round.
Brandao came out with a more measured pace in the second. Elkins landed a few jabs and lefts early, and a couple of counter rights up the middle. Brandao threw a nice step-in side elbow that landed. Brandao slipped on a front kick and Elkins jumped into his guard. Darren methodically worked on top, landing some body shots and solid rights while Brandao looked for elbows. Elkins did a good job passing guard and advanced to mount, raining down huge punches. Brandao managed to get back to half guard, but continued to eat shots as the round ended.
After some timid exchanges early in the third, Elkins caught a knee and took the fight to the floor. Elkins dropped some short elbows and body/head combinations, staying busy in Brandao's guard. Elkins advanced to full mount once again, and opened up his striking once again. He moved back to half guard with a headlock and ripped Brandao to the body. Elkins locked up an arm-in guillotine but Brandao spun out. Brandao managed to get up and reverse, and landed a big elbow on top with a minute to go. Elkins locked Brandao down with the rubber guard for the rest of the fight.
Elkins entered the fight on a two-fight winning streak and was undefeated at featherweight. Brandao was coming off his Ultimate Fighter 14 win at lightweight.