Featherweight bout: Darren Elkins (+110) vs Hatsu Hioki (-130) Fight Breakdown: The UFC Fight Night 27 prelims bring a featherweight battle between two very talented grapplers when Darren “The Damage” Elkins takes on Hatsu Hioki. Elkins is currently a slight underdog at +110 ($100 to win $110), with Hioki being a slight favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. Darren Elkins (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) returns to the Octagon after suffering a first round knockout loss to Chad Mendes four months ago. Elkins was riding a five fight win streak heading into the bout versus Mendes. Mendes really put an end to it by knocking him out only one minute into the first round. “The Damage” now looks to rebound from his first loss in the featherweight division, against Hatsu Hioki and he will go back to depending on his wrestling to do so. I think Elkins will be looking to replicate and perfect Clay Guida’s game plan he used against Hioki. Darren Elkins doesn’t have great footwork or head movement, but his boxing skills are okay and improving. Elkins is a triathlete who has incredible cardio and is always game for a hard three rounds. Aside from the Mendes knockout, he had been known for his great chin and ability to take serious punishment, as was evident in his first round versus Diego Brandao, where he got lit up very badly and survived to come back and win the second and third rounds. It was a very impressive performance, but I don’t know what happened with Mendes; perhaps Mendes hits a lot harder than he’s ever been hit before. Elkins’ bread and butter, of course, is his relentlessly smothering wrestling which he usually uses to control opponents en route to Decision victories and as mentioned, I believe that will be his game plan going into this bout; he will look to control and smother Hioki for three rounds. Hatsu Hioki (26-6-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) is making his fifth trip to the Octagon following a controversial Split Decision loss to Clay Guida six months ago. Many people believe Hioki won that fight, but I personally scored it for Guida, as did two of the three judges at cage-side. In my opinion, Hatsu Hioki’s only UFC win has been against Bart Palaszewski, as I believe he truly lost in his UFC debut where he took a controversial Split Decision win over current UFC bantamweight George Roop. Hioki is a very talented grappler and submission artist, as he holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Much like Elkins, Hioki uses his offensive grappling to smother his opponents and wear them down. Except unlike Elkins, Hioki is constantly looking for opportunities to submit said opponents. Hatsu Hioki is going to need to get a takedown before Elkins gets one on him. He isn’t too worried about being on his back, though, as he is very active from the bottom position, both with strikes and submission attempts. Regardless of how comfortable he is being there, that is what cost him his fights versus Clay Guida and Ricardo Lamas. He needs to be fighting offensively in this bout, and having joined the Tristar Gym in Montreal, they should have him ready to do so. Fight Prediction: I think this is going to be a grind-fest, I’m just not quite sure as to who will ultimately get the better of it for two out of three rounds. Whoever gets the most takedowns and most amount of time spent in top position will win this fight, and really, it all depends on who scores the initial takedowns at the start of the rounds. Regardless of how it plays out, I see it going to the judges scorecards for a Decision. Gabe’s Pick: Hatsu Hioki by (probably yet another controversial) Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Over 2.5 rounds -175 for a large play, as I think this line should be -320.