Darren Elkins wins suffocating split decision over Lucas Martins

Darren Elkins looked worse than Lucas Martins, but won the fight by split decision.

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Darren Elkins executed his game plan and took home a victory.

That’s about the nicest thing you could say about a fight that had the fans either booing or completely silent Saturday night at UFC 179. Elkins suffocated Brazilian striker Lucas Martins against the cage and landed more punches en route to a split decision win (30-27, 27-30, 30-27) in Rio de Janeiro.

Elkins (18-4) looked worse after the fight but landed significantly more blows and also controlled the cage completely. Martins (15-2) certainly landed the harder shots, but he really couldn’t string anything together against Elkins, who is ranked No. 13 among featherweight contenders.

Martins landed big shots in the each round, but every time it seemed like he had Elkins in trouble, Elkins brought things into a clinch and pushed Martins against the fence. That’s what we have come to expect from the Indiana native, who is hardly the most exciting fighter in the division but is extremely effective.

Elkins, 30, remains a guy no one at 145 wants to face because of his wrestling style. He’s little more than a gatekeeper but has only lost to the likes of Chad Mendes and Jeremy Stephens in the last three years. That isn’t too shabby.

Martins, 25, didn’t pass the wrestler test here. But he’s still a solid prospect at featherweight who can certainly put on very entertaining fights against other strikers. He is not quite ready to move up the ladder, though, and Elkins proved that.