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UFC 179: Aldo vs. Mendes 2 - Idiot's Guide and Preview to Darren Elkins vs. Lucas Martins

Darren Elkins looks to keep his status as Featherweight Jon Fitch while taking on the young, brawling Lucas Martins. Here are the 3 things you need to know about this 145lb bout.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Featherweight Darren Elkins vs. Lucas Martins

Darren Elkins is 17-4 overall, and 7-3 in the UFC with 2 TKO victories (a little misleading given the Ludwig fight) and five decisions. Lucas Martins is 15-1 overall, and 3-1 in the UFC with 2 KO's, and one submission victory. Martins is the underdog at +155.

3 Things You Should Know

1. Darren Elkins is the Jon Fitch of the Featherweight division; keep him away from your prospects, and stuck into the frying pan.

Every now and then a fighter comes along who fans quietly loathe. Or in the internet's case...outright loathe. The loathing becomes so loud that even UFC matchmaking appears to be listening, and the matchups exist on a bipolar scale of irrelevant bouts versus really difficult ones. Elkins is that man.

Elkins and Fitch aren't antiheroes. They're not villains either. Rather, they're forces of nature. They represent the cold stoic rhythm of persistence.

"Loathe" is a harsh word, so maybe I'm being a little dramatic, but Elkins is just that guy, like Fitch, who wins by clearing the toys out of the room. 7-3 is doubly impressive when you consider the opposition: Hatsu Hioki, Diego Brandao, Seven Siler, and Antonio Carvalho. He's fresh off a loss to Jeremy Stephens on a fight that wasn't too memorable.

2. Lucas Martins' striking advantage over Elkins is probably way overblown.

Well, I'm certainly not gonna argue that Elkins is a better striker. He isn't. Martins has real power and throws crisp straight punches with excellent balance and shoulders squared. More importantly, he stays busy, and his power never seems to wane in spite of his work rate.

But his head movement could most charitably be described as like a broken pez dispenser. Against Edson Barboza, he got cracked early and never seemed interested in getting out of the way of Edson's blistering haymakers. A left hook ended up stiffening him up pretty good. Elkins is nothing like Barboza, but he possesses a strong straight right hand that I could easily see landing as he keeps Martins guessing with his takedowns and clinchwork. Even Junior Hernandez, who got ruined inside of a minute caught Martins pretty good in the final exchange before getting choked out. Even though Elkins' strength is grappling, and wrestling, he has 7 TKO/KO's on his dance card illustrating how though he's not a fancy striker, his raw strength and deceptive speed is not to be trifled with.

Plus Elkins has only been finished once, legitimately, and that was against featherweight hulkbuster, Chad Mendes.

3. Never underestimate the learning curve of youth.

25 is young. Bad habits can be quickly dropped, only for new habits to blossom. It's not always the case, but with the right camp, and attitude, young fighters can improve quickly from fight to fight.

That's the challenge for Martins. He has the raw materials to be a veteran FW fighter in the division. He's athletic, and uses it well to scramble out of takedowns, and/or retain his balance. And though he had some bad habits on the feet, he is a juggernaut offensively.

Even with his flaws, I think Martins is still competitive here. He chambers his kicks, low and high, quickly, which means he's not as prone to having his opponents successfully time a takedown. In addition, his strong base means opponents have to work harder, and shoot quicker to get him down. This will be his 5th fight in the UFC, and his lone loss isn't anything to be ashamed of. Especially for a FW who won't ever have to deal with Barboza's windmill style.

I've picking Elkins with quite a bit of trepidation for reasons outlined above. But the guy has faced tougher competition, and didn't look too bad against Stephens.

Prediction

Darren Elkins by Decision.