UFC 196 Fight Breakdown: Darren Elkins vs Chas Skelly

Chad-mendesPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at a featherweight clash between Darren Elkins and Chas Skelly. Both fighters won in their last outing, but Skelly is riding a four-fight winning streak in the UFC and is looking for the biggest victory of his career.   Darren Elkins (Record: 19-5, +140 Underdog, Fighter Grade: C+) Darren Elkins has been fighting professionally for over nine years. Growing up he was an avid wrestler competing throughout high school and winning a state championship in Indiana his senior year. He’s received the majority of his training in the midwest competing in small regional promotions prior to getting the call from the UFC. Elkins is the 11th ranked featherweight in the UFC. When looking at his skill-set, technique and raw talent are not what stand out. He’s not a great striker or an acclaimed collegiate wrestler, however his relentless approach and conditioning are near the top of the division. Of his nine victories inside the Octagon, all but two of them have been by decision. His hands have improved throughout his time in the UFC, but he lacks knockout power and mainly uses strikes to set up his grappling. Elkins is as persistent as any fighter in the division when it comes to wrestling and he will pursue the takedown for the majority of each fight. He’s very good at pushing his opponent backwards and keeping his opponent’s back against the cage. His style is similar to Tatsuya Kawajiri in that he’s a grinder that intends to outwork his opponent. That approach has worked thus far in the UFC with his only losses to fighters currently ranked in the top 10 of the weight class.   Chas Skelly (Record: 15-1, -160 Favorite, Fighter Grade: C+) The Bedford, Texas-born fighter enters this contest on the back of a four-fight winning streak. Like Elkins, Skelly was an acclaimed high school wrestler finishing his career with a record of 164-3 with a state championship in Texas. He wrestled collegiately at Oklahoma City University where he was a NAIA All American.  Skelly has trained with Team Takedown for several years alongside former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks. Skelly, like Elkins, comes from a wrestling base. With that said, he tends to utilize striking more in his fights. Skelly has a solid overhand right that he can land with power. The rest of his striking technique leaves a lot to be desired. On the ground, he has a nice variety of chokes to work with. Of his 15 wins, eight of them have come via submission. He has a decent offensive game, but defensively there are some glaring holes. He’s very hittable on the feet and seems to have little issue going strike for strike and ending up in a brawl. His conditioning leaves a lot to be desired. He is a big featherweight and cuts a lot of weight to make 145 pounds. In a grueling fight, he will likely struggle in the latter portions of the contest.   Match-up This is a match-up between two fairly similar fighters. Both are capable of grinding out opponents utilizing their wrestling pedigrees. Skelly likely has the edge on the feet due to far superior power in his hands; however Elkins is much more active and mobile. If it stays on the feet, Elkins should land more strikes, but Skelly will land the heavier blows. Skelly is a couple inches taller and has a couple inch reach advantage as well. That will be another advantage in the early portion of the fight. As the fight wears on, I expect Elkins to continue fighting at a significant pace and that will cause problems for his opponent. Skelly, a fighter who cuts a significant amount of weight, will struggle late in the fight with his opponent’s pressure and continued aggression. This is a tough fight to call as it’s difficult to say at what point Elkins begins to take over the fight. In the end, there’s a high probability it ends up going to judges. In this situation, I tend to like the fighter who finishes strong as opposed to the one that struggles late and that sways things towards Darren Elkins.

Written by Jay Primetown

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