Referee Herb Dean raises the hand of Darren Elkins in victory as Diego Brandao claps. Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting.
As a coming out party of sorts after his time on The Ultimate Fighter, Diego Brandao fought Darren Elkins at UFC 146. The two delivered a mini-war that saw both fighters take turns measured almost in full rounds and spent delivering goodly amounts of punches to the face of the other.
Brandao was riding some considerable hype due to his propensity to deliver some very violent finishes. His dramatic armbar of Dennis Bermudez remains one of the high points of The Ultimate Fighter throughout all the seasons and his style seems geared in a fan-friendly manner. Unfortunately, he was unable to finish Elkins in the first and could not fend off Elkins' takedowns in the second and third rounds.
With the close victory under his belt, Elkins is now on a three fight win streak in the promotion. This streak should actually be at two, since he was the beneficiary of a very dubious decision against Michihiro Omigawa at UFC 131. Elkins made Tie Quan Zhang look silly for three rounds and again displayed a commendable work ethic for a wrestling-based fighter who did not wrestle in college.
What was the high spot of this fight?
Not sure there was one exact moment. Round one was arguably a 10-8 for Brandao, but none of the official judges saw it that way. The next round saw Elkins inflict nearly the same level of punishment on Brandao and do the same for most of the third as well.
I scored it a draw at 28-28, but Mark Smith, Glenn Trowbridge and Tony Weeks turned in identical scorecards of 29-28 for Elkins.
Where do these guys go from here?
Brandao needs to drastically improve his ability to get back to the feet after a takedown. It has been a weakness of his for a long time - the Dennis Bermudez armbar notwithstanding - and needs to get better for him to compete in the division. He should wait a while and see if any of the recent TUF contestants at lightweight drop to featherweight (almost a certainty) and fight one of them to get another paycheck and more time to improve his defensive grappling.
Elkins remains a tough, tough out and will give almost everybody in the division fits with his wrestling and aggressive ground-based strikes game. I would like to see him fight Eddie Yagin to see if Elkins can open up some more on the feet and broaden his game some before getting into the elite of the division.
Watch it now, later or never?
Later. There are much more exciting finishes and the momentum swings seemed to occur within the round breaks, rather than the fight itself. Apart from a last minute reversal, which saw Brandao return to the feet against a downed Elkins, one guy basically beat the heck out of the other for the full round.
After the jump, all the related UFC 146 links you could want.