UFC on FOX 10 Fight Breakdown: Jeremy Stephens (-150) vs. Darren Elkins (+120)

Chad-mendes Opening the main card of UFC on FOX 10 is a featherweight bout between Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens and Darren “The Damage” Elkins. The current betting line for this match at Several Bookmakers lists Stephens as a -150 favorite (bet $150 to win $100), while Elkins is a +120 underdog (bet $100 to win $120). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Stephens as a -130 favorite and Elkins as a slight -110 dog, meaning so far the betting public has come in slightly on Stephens. I agree with the initial line movement as I’m also picking Stephens to win this fight. Here’s why. Stephens (22-9) is an extremely dangerous striker with knockout power in all limbs and he also possesses good wrestling skills. The Team Alliance MMA fighter was a long-time member of the UFC lightweight division but after losing three-straight fights he decided last year to drop down to 145 and so far the results have been flawless. The 29-year-old has looked amazing at 145 pounds, destroying Estevan Payan at UFC 160 and then knocking Rony Jason out cold with a booming head kick at UFC Fight Night 32 as an underdog. Although Stephens flamed out at 155, he looked reinvigorated at 145 and the craziest thing is he’s still only 27 years old and therefore improving. I really thought Stephens was close to being on his way out of the UFC after his knockout loss to Yves Edwards at UFC on FOX 5 and I bet against him in both his featherweight fights, but after seeing him absolutely dominate both his foes at 145 I’ve changed my tune and really think he has a chance to make a run for the featherweight title. If he takes out Elkins in impressive fashion on national television, I really expect him to take that next step towards greatness. Elkins (17-3) is a smothering wrestler who is known for his excellent cardio, durability and the ability to win fights in the Octagon as he has so far racked up a 7-2 record inside the eight-sided cage. The 29-year-old has come through as the underdog on numerous occasions, including in his wins over Hatsu Hioki, Diego Brandao, and Michihiro Omigawa, and his only loss as a 145er in the UFC came to top-ranked Chad Mendes. Elkins is always counted out because he is a quiet, humble guy but he’s a very dangerous mixed martial artist and not a guy who many featherweights are clamoring to face because of his ability to survive damage, outlast his opponent, and hold top position long enough to win. Against Stephens, though, Elkins could be in trouble if he can’t get the takedown as Stephens is a much more experienced striker on the feet and should have a huge edge if he stays standing, although it should be worth noting Elkins does have improving boxing. Stephens showed excellent wrestling in his fight with Payan (who just recently showed he himself is a solid wrestler in his fight with Robbie Peralta) so while Elkins has proven himself to be one of the top smotherers in the UFC featherweight division, based on what I’ve seen from him at 145 pounds, Stephens should be able to stuff the takedowns, keep the fight standing, and either knock Elkins out or clearly win a decision on the judges’ scorecards. I have been high on Elkins for a long time and he’s been a money train for me over the last few years as he’s usually a winning underdog in his fights, but I just think this is a bad style matchup for him and I definitely see Stephens collecting his third-straight win at 145 pounds. Although Stephens is up from his -130 opener, I still like him here for a bet at -150, and I think a parlay of him and Eddie Wineland should be a winner. Stephens is a much-improved fighter since dropping to featherweight, he has more experience than Elkins, he’s the better striker, he’s younger, and he should win this fight and continue to move upwards in the division’s ladder.

Written by Adam Martin.

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