Why Darren Elkins Is the Most Underrated Fighter in MMA Right Now

Nathan McCarterFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2013

Mar 15, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Darren Elkins during the weight-in for UFC 158 at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Elkins is currently on a five-win streak in the UFC’s featherweight division.

And he is still unranked. He is one of the most underrated and undervalued members of the UFC roster.

There are other fighters who go overlooked as well, but if you are ranked in the official UFC rankings then it is hard to argue just how underrated one may be.

Is Demain Maia often looked past? Yes, but at No. 5 in the welterweight standings he is not underrated. The same can be said for countless others.

Elkins, on the other hand, is a virtual unknown to most of the world in spite of his win streak.

He made his featherweight debut at UFC 131 against a very tough Michihiro Omigawa. At UFC 136 he took on Zhang Tiequan who was coming off a quick submission win. Elkins won both fights by decision.

Up next for Elkins was Diego Brandao.

Brandao had just won The Ultimate Fighter and looked to be a threat in the division. He had devastating power and showed decent all-around skills throughout the show. Elkins stifled him and took another decision. This is a win that should have garnered Elkins more notoriety. It did not.

Next up? Steven Siler.

Siler came in on a three-fight win streak of his own. He took care of Josh Clopton, Cole Miller, and Joey Gambino. Once again, Elkins was overlooked. Once again, Elkins took care of business for 15 minutes.

Most recently, Elkins was pitted against Antonio Carvalho at UFC 158.

Carvalho had back-to-back wins that included a split decision over Rodrigo Damm and a brutal KO of Daniel Pineda. It seemed that he would be an interesting stylistic matchup for Elkins. The featherweight out of Indiana scored a TKO.

Some considered that stoppage to be a bit premature, but regardless he had Carvalho badly hurt and got the finish. His first stoppage at 145 pounds, five straight wins and still he cannot break in to the top 10 in the rankings.

Why is he underrated?

Part of the issue is his style. He is not the flashiest character on the roster. He is a grinder.

Fans, and voters, love finishers. It is what kept Jon Fitch out of the title picture for so long, and what prevented him from getting a rematch in spite of his wins. The style is effective, but it does not excite anyone to watch the fights.

Elkins needed that finish against Carvalho. It was unfortunate that many saw it as an early stoppage.

The featherweight rankings are clogged with excellent fighters, but there is little to no excuse for Elkins to be outside the top 10 with a 5-0 record in the division considering the talent he has faced. He has not run through a litany of scrubs.

A sixth straight win would have to move him up in to the top 10. He would have a legitimate case to move in to the top five.

He will have the chance to get his recognition in his next outing. He is scheduled to face No. 1 ranked Chad Mendes on April 20. A victory there should catapult him in to the top five of the division.

Elkins can shock the MMA community and then maybe move in to a conversation of the most overrated fighters.