Darren Elkins Sees Chad Mendes as His "Fast Track" to Title Contention

Damon MartinContributor IMarch 19, 2013

Mar 16, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN;  Darren Elkins (blue and Antonio Carvalho (red) throw simultaneous punches during their preliminary round bout at UFC 158 at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes it's all about being in the right place at the right time, and Darren Elkins now knows that all too well.

At UFC 158 last weekend, Elkins wanted to make a statement while winning his fifth fight in a row at featherweight and he did that in dramatic fashion with a first-round knockout over Antonio Carvalho. 

Typically after a fight, the competitors look forward to a little rest and relaxation, maybe even some unhealthy food just to move past the rigors of a long training camp, but before Elkins left Montreal he already had his next fight booked.

"It happened pretty much that night actually," Elkins revealed when speaking to Bleacher Report on Tuesday.  "I knew Clay Guida was out, but I knew he was hurt and my manager talked to me and said 'what do you think about fighting Chad Mendes?'.  We met up when we were down there (in Montreal), I was healthy, I'm in shape right now, and with the type of opponent they wanted to give Chad Mendes we're tied up so it made sense."

Elkins had been gunning for a top-ten opponent ever since he debuted at 145-pounds, but the problem recently has been none of those fighters were available or already booked in other fights.

When Elkins heard about the unfortunate injury to Clay Guida, he jumped at the chance to step in and face a former title contender like Chad Mendes.

"This is definitely what I've been looking for, this type of fight," said Elkins. "This is a huge fight in front of me, a huge opportunity, and I'm in shape already.  It's not as long of a camp as I would like, but all I'll have to do is make adjustments for Chad Mendes.  That's the big thing."

Since losing a fight to featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes has turned into a wrecking machine.  His last two fights in a row have gone a combined 2 minutes and 26 seconds with knockouts ending both in a flash.

Elkins knows that Mendes is not going to be an easy problem to conquer, but if fights were easy everybody would be a champion.

"He's tough, he's getting better each fight; he's got great wrestling, he's got power on his hands, but I'm getting better, too.  It's an exciting matchup," Elkins stated.   "We're both wrestlers, we're both going to come out there swinging and we're going to set a high pace and I think it's going to be an awesome fight to watch."

With five wins in a row at featherweight, Elkins would move to six with a victory over Mendes, but more importantly he would defeat one of the top contenders at 145-pounds.  Following his win on Saturday, Elkins was hoping for a top-ten fight. 

If he can get by Mendes, Elkins could be staring down a title shot by the end of the year.

"He's on a tear obviously and he deserves to be right behind Jose Aldo. If I beat him, that's a huge statement. That gets me ahead of a lot of people and that's why I took the opportunity. I can't wait," said Elkins.

"It's definitely my fast track and that's how I look at it."

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.