Putting together a winning streak in the UFC is no easy task, but featherweight Darren Elkins has put together four in a row while quietly slipping under the radar.
Since moving to 145 pounds, Elkins has an unblemished record with four dominant wins in a row, including victories over former top-level featherweight Michihiro Omigawa and The Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Brandao.
For all his hard work, however, Elkins still hasn't found a home in the top-10 rankings, nor does his name get mentioned when discussions come up about who should face one of the elite featherweight contenders, even though he's arguably already on that list.
"I don't let that get to me too much," Elkins told Bleacher Report when asked about his name not ending up in the top-10 discussion yet. "(Antonio) Carvalho's a dangerous opponent. I've just got to focus on that fight. If I'm fighting, pretty often I'm happy. I'd rather fight often than sit around, and I know right now a lot of the top guys already have bookings for fights. I'd rather fight now that sit around waiting for a fight down the road."
It's the mentality of a wrestler that keeps Elkins on the grind, and he's not a guy made for the game of calling out other fighters when he's trying to get his way. He did that once when he asked to face Chan Sung Jung aka "The Korean Zombie," but when that fight didn't come together, he just decided to stay on the path of fighting as often as possible and letting the UFC decide the best way to utilize him on a card.
"I wanted to fight the Zombie until he got hurt. I knew he would be the guy to fight and I wanted to fight him, and I was really trying to get that fight, but he was going to be out so long. That didn’t go as planned," explained Elkins.
Elkins may soon find himself in a similar situation as another Indiana native who had to go through hard work and a long winning streak to finally earn his crack at the belt a few years back.
Jon Fitch put on workman-like performances while dominating his way to the top of the welterweight division. It took the American Kickboxing Academy welterweight eight wins in a row before he finally got a crack at champion Georges St-Pierre. If Elkins gets past Antonio Carvalho this weekend, that will give him five victories in five tries at featherweight.
"I'm going to focus on this fight, but I want a step up, I want to make a statement that if I win this fight, I want a step up. I want to fight somebody who is a top-10 guy for sure," said Elkins.
"I think I'm going to have to go out there, put on an awesome performance against Carvalho, and then go from there."
Elkins hasn't made it to the top 10 yet or even had the chance to face a big-name featherweight opponent, but if he keeps beating everybody up and dominating from bell to bell, he knows they can't ignore him forever.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.