UFC 179 Fight Breakdown: Darren Elkins vs. Lucas Martins

lucas-martins One of the main card bouts at UFC 179 that I find very intriguing is a three-round featherweight bout between Darren Elkins and Lucas Martins. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Elkins is a -175 favorite (bet $175 to win $100) while Martins is a +155 underdog (bet $100 to win $155). MMA linesetter Nick Kalikas opened up Elkins at -150 and Martins at +110, and so far the betting public has been backing Elkins. This is a very tough fight to call, and I can realistically see it going either way, but at the current odds I believe the value is on Martins as the dog and I am picking him for the upset. Here’s why. Elkins (17-4) is one of the most underrated featherweights in the UFC. The 30-year-old American is 7-3 overall in the Octagon with wins over Hatsu Hioki, Antonio Carvalho, Steven Siler, Diego Brandao, Tiequan Zhang, Michihiro Omigawa and Duane Ludwig, with his losses coming to Jeremy Stephens, Chad Mendes and Charles Oliveira. Elkins is your proto-typical wrestler/grinder who uses his pressure and pace to outwork his opponents in order to win decisions. He has some of the most-effective wrestling in the division and he has the cardio to keep up an intense pace for 15 minutes. However, while he does have good wrestling, he doesn’t have good striking, and he’s been lit up and hurt in multiple fights. He is a pretty tough guy, but as we saw in his fight with Mendes it is possible to knock Elkins out. I have been a fan of Elkins for a while because he’s one of those blue-collared guys who just guys about his business with little fanfare, but the reality is he is quite limited as a mixed martial artist. I wish Elkins was more active from his guard, because he certainly has some solid wrestling to control his fights from the top, but with little finishing ability I don’t believe Elkins will ever break into the upper echelon with featherweights, and I think he’s one a bit of a decline and could be worth fading from here on out, depending of course on the matchup. Martins (15-1) is 3-1 in the UFC with wins over Alex White, Ramiro Hernandez and Jeremy Larsen — all wins coming by stoppage — with his lone loss coming to Edson Barboza. A unique fact about Martins is that he has won fights at 135lbs, 145lbs and 155lbs in the UFC, but he seems to have finally settled on 145 as his weight class and so far it seems like he has made the right decision. The 25-year-old Brazilian is a wicked muay Thai striker with a ton of power in all of his limbs and the ability to keep up a solid volume and pace over the course of 15 minutes. He has only been competing in MMA since 2007, but so far has picked up 15 wins, including 10 by knockout. He also has a solid submission game, having won four fights by tapout so far in his career. Offensively, Martins is a beast and he really is a special striker, but defensively he gets hit a ton and his chin has looked very shaky in the Octagon. That likely won’t matter fighting a grinder with no power like Elkins, but it’s something to keep an eye on as he moves forward in his UFC career. Martins’ wrestling hasn’t been tested much yet, but if he can stop Elkins’ takedowns and keep this fight standing, he will have a significant advantage. However, if he gets taken down he will be in trouble, and with most bettors believing that will be the case he enters this fight as the underdog. My initial thought when I heard about this fight was that Elkins will take down Martins and grind him out for a decision, but the more I think about it the more I like Martins here. There’s no doubt Elkins is a strong wrestler, but he lacks in finishing ability and if he just thinks he can hold top control in Brazil, he is surely mistaken as the crowd is likely to boo and force the referee to stand the fight up if Elkins isn’t doing enough with his submission attempts or ground and pound. And the more this fight takes place on the feet, the more it favors Martins. Elkins is a tough fighter but his striking is very poor while I would consider Martins to be very dagnerous on the feet. I believe 145lbs is the right weight class for Martins and I think as long as he can stop the majority of takedowns, he can win this fight. It’s not an easy matchup to pick the winner of due to the styles, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if my initial lean of Elkins by decision wins, but I think at +155 there is value on Martins as a dog and the Brazilian could be worth a small bet as a value dog, especially if even more money comes in on Elkins in the days leading up until the fight.

Written by Adam Martin.

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