Darren Elkins vs Mirsad Bektic, UFC 209, 4 March 2017
Fight of the Night
Darren Elkins might not be a super star in the sport, but he is definitely one of the toughest. To me, he has become akin to the likes of Scott Jorgensen, Eddie Wineland, and Brad Pickett. Fighters who are extremely talented and accomplished but for one reason or another, simply haven’t been able to break into the upper echelon of their weight divisions. Darren Elkins vs Mirsad Bektic unfortunately isn’t going to help in Darren’s bid for a UFC title shot and MMA stardom, but it does speak volumes to how much heart and experience Darren has.
Darren Elkins started his UFC career with a series of wins against prospects coming out of The Ultimate Fighter show. He put away Zhang TeQuan, a coach on The Ultimate Fighter China. He then defeated Diego Brandao and Steven Siler, both from TUF 14 Bisping vs. Miller. His path to the title was disrupted by the great Chad Mendes who was coming off his first loss to Jose Aldo. Darren follows up his loss with a win over the dangerous Hatsu Hioki but then loses to Jeremy Stephens. He gets a win against the talented Lucas Martins, but then loses again to Hacran Dias.
With his career in a little bit of a roller coster pattern, Darren seems to be fine with a certain level of competition. But once he tries to reach higher, he immediately gets shut down.
His win over Mirsad Bektic cements a fourth win in a row. In this winning streak, Darren has defeated the likes of Chas Skelly, Robert Whiteford, and Godofredo Pepey (who was on TUF Brazil). The UFC might put him against the next level of stiff competition. But I’m afraid that Darren is going to choke and never get a chance at the title.
Mirsad Bektic on the other hand is a Bosnian born fighter coming out of American Top Team. Honestly, that’s enough said. Eastern Europeans have this innate toughness to them that gives them an extra edge over other fighters. With training at American Top Team, basically means that Mirsad Bektic will likely be a future contender if not title holder. In his short career in the UFC, Bektic has put together a string of wins and showed impeccable technique and speed. Valuable assets when facing top tier featherweights.
In Darren Elkins vs Mirsad Bektic, we see that Bektic was handily winning the first two rounds of the fight. In the beginning of the first round, Bektic was able to land hard shots with the right over Darren’s left shoulder. He hit a beautiful takedown and had Darren on his back for the rest of the round. From top position, Bektic flowed smoothly from being in Darrens guard to half guard to side control. He had Darren in a crucifix position at one point and landed fierce and brutal elbows. At the end of the first round, Darren was bloody, beaten, and tired. He had two visible cuts on his face and slowly made his way back to his corner.
This is when Darren shines. This is the type of fight he wants. He wants to drag Mirsad Bektic into deep water. He wants to test Mirsad’s conditioning. He wants to test how Mirsad can think and react while he’s tired and under pressure.
The second round of the fight is similar to the first round. Mirsad Bektic is landing crisp, clean, and brutal combinations. Mirsad is got a take down and transitioned from position to position effortlessly. But fight fans can tell. As Bektic continues, it seems that Darren’s battery is just getting charged. With cuts and bruises on his face, Darren starts turning the momentum around in the second half of the second round. Bektic is no longer able to get take downs as easily any more. Darren is stuffing the takedowns, muscling his way out and landing punches and elbows on the way out. The second round belongs to Bektic but the tides seem to be turning.
In the third round, Bektic is finding it even harder to take Darren down. Joe Rogan and Dominick Cruz are wondering why Mirsad isn’t sticking to his stand-up game and why he continues to attempt takedown after takedown. Mirsad could have stayed on the outside, landed jabs and leg kicks and cruised his way to a victory. Mirsad decided to engage Darren in a tiring grinding fight against the cage. Darren relished in this opportunity and fought with every fibre in his body. Blood streaming from open gashes above and below his right eye. Darren pins Bektic against the fence and leans his body weight on him while landing punches to the face and knees to the thigh. Bektic tries to get out of the trapped position. Darren anticipates the flee and lands a right hand that wobbles Bektic and finishes it off with a kick to the head that knocks Bektic out.
I’m watching this fight and I am completely shocked. I am silenced. The crowd on the screen in front of me is roaring and cheering. This is Darren Elkins. He had the piss beaten out of him for two and half rounds, twelve minutes, by a fighter that seemed like he was clearly better. Smoother technique, faster transitions, stronger takedowns, crisper combinations. Darren Elkins was bleeding and battered but he never gave up. He toughed out the beating and came out victorious. On the Joe Rogan Experience with former fighter Julie Kedzie, Joe Rogan describes how emotional the moment was. Him sitting cage side with Dominick Cruz and Jon Anik. Darren Elkins win moved him to tears. The raw human moments in mma.
Darren Elkins vs Mirsad Bektic full fight video
Joe Rogan talking about Darren Elkins with with Julie Kedzie on JRE (starts at 7 minutes)