Darren Elkins Wants No Part of Hatsu Hioki's Typical Fights, Plans to Finish Him
"It definitely wasn’t pretty" - Clay Guida.
Those were the words uttered just moments after Guida pulled off a split-decision victory over Hatsu Hioki at UFC on Fox 6 back in January.
While Guida was victorious, he became the latest fighter that was stuck in a pit of quicksand fighting the Japanese born featherweight who now holds a 2-2 record in the UFC, but remains one of the toughest matchups in the division.
Hioki has fought close in all of his bouts in the UFC and has never been finished in his entire career.
Coming into his fight with Hioki, fellow UFC featherweight Darren Elkins knows he's got a tough order ahead of him as he tries to become the first person to put him away.
Prior to his loss to Chad Mendes in April, Elkins was on a five-fight win streak as he started to make waves in the 145-pound division. The defeat was a setback, but Elkins wasn't about to start all over again at the bottom of the ladder.
Instead, he wanted the toughest fight possible, and Hioki certainly fits the bill.
"He's definitely a tough guy. Even guys like (Ricardo) Lamas and (Clay) Guida they had a lot of trouble, I mean yeah they won but they were pretty close decisions," Elkins said. "Every time you see him fight someone it's always kind of that close fight. He doesn't get knocked out, he doesn't get submitted. He's lost by decision and any time he loses, it's a close decision. You always know you're going to be in a fight with him."
Elkins is like most fighters because he's gone to decision plenty of times, but no one wants it close enough that a judge or two could find a way to give the nod to an opponent.
The problem with fighting Hioki is he's always in the fight, never goes away and he's going to make 15 minutes in the cage with him feel like you're stuck on an endless loop watching The English Patient.
Elkins wants no part of visualizing that scenario.
"He's one of those guys where if it goes to the judges, you hope the judges see it your way that night," Elkins said. "It's such a close fight with him that it could go the other way. I want to go out there and make sure I win that fight so I want to finish him or put on the kind of performance where it's not really even close."
Elkins has a little extra motivation this time around, not only because he's returning from a loss, but he's also competing in front of his home state fans in Indiana.
Growing up in the Hoosier state, Elkins used to wrestle in high school state tournaments in the same arena where he'll fight Hioki next week at UFC Fight Night 27. It really is a homecoming for Elkins, and he doesn't want to let his friends and family down by putting on a lackluster performance.
"I want to win, but I also want to make this an exciting fight because sometimes when you have two guys who are evenly matched up like that it can sometimes be a lot of stalemates," Elkins said. "I definitely want to put the pressure on him, and put on a great performance. It would mean a lot if I could do something those guys couldn't do."
Beating Hioki would be a great mark on his record, but finishing him would be something no other fighter has ever done.
When he came to the UFC, Hioki was touted as one of the top featherweights on the planet, and was actually offered a title shot at champion Jose Aldo, but he turned it down. So whether he's off two losses in a row right now or not, Elkins is confident beating someone like Hioki gets him right back in the spot he was one fight ago.
"The thing about the featherweight division is it's so wide open right now," Elkins said. "There's a lot of different contenders out there right now, and I'm just trying to put myself in that mix."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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