The UFC is making the move to the Versus Network on March 21 with “UFC Live: Vera vs. Jones” set for the 1stBANK Center in Broomfield, CO. The event features a light heavyweight clash between Jon “Bones” Jones and Brandon “The Truth” Vera. Junior dos Santos and Gabriel Gonzaga will also go to war on the evening’s main card in a heavyweight match up.
While the event allows the opportunity for several fighters to stake their claims as some of the best prospects and top contenders in the UFC, three fighters on the preliminary card are looking for the opportunity to break out of obscurity and into the mainstream of mixed martial arts with a successful debut with the promotion.
Darren Elkins, Daniel Roberts, and Julio Paulino are the three UFC-newcomers craving an opportunity to compete at the top level of mixed martial arts and garner some attention come March 21. Each man gained the opportunity at a shot with the UFC when several fighters lost opponents due to injury, and each UFC rookie is looking to make a point with a dominant performance.
While this may be the first time any of the three step into the cage as a participant in a UFC event, each one has earned the opportunity through a short and successful career in mixed martial arts. The three will look to officially introduce themselves on March 21, but let’s take a look at exactly what has earned them a shot in the top promotion in all of mixed martial arts.
UFC newcomer Darren Elkins will be welcomed to the promotion on March 21 with a bang, as he is set to face slugger Duane “Bang” Ludwig on the evening’s preliminary card.
Elkins’ career began just over three years ago when he forced his victim to submit due to strikes. He followed up his explosive debut with eight consecutive victories, consisting of three technical knockouts and four submissions.
However, Elkins undefeated run at 155-pounds came to an end at Duneland Classic 6, where he was knocked out by mixed martial arts veteran Ted Worthington. Searching for redemption, Elkins began turning things back around with a technical knockout victory and a unanimous decision victory within just two months of his loss.
After gaining his redemption, Elkins is now in search for a secure spot on the UFC lightweight roster, as he is set to face striking sensation Ludwig. Elkins’ competence in the stand up, along with his slick submission game could prove enough for a positive debut with the most prominent promotion in the sport.
Following a less-than-promising start to his career with a split-decision victory in his debut as a professional mixed martial artist, Roberts has gone on a rampage as of late.
Nine fights into his professional career Roberts has yet to lose. His 9-0 record consists of seven submissions and two decisions and has earned him a shot with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The fact that his last four contests were finished with a first round submission certainly did not hurt his case for an opportunity with the promotion.
For his debut with the UFC, Roberts has been set up against John Howard, who was originally scheduled to face Anthony Johnson. Like Elkins, Roberts is not exactly being eased into the UFC. Howard (13-4) is on a six fight tear, including a vicious come-from-behind knockout victory against Dennis Hallman last Dec. with a mere five seconds left in the fight.
However, Roberts, a NAIA All-American in wrestling, is looking to put an end to the winning streak of Howard. His solid wrestling base and impressive jiu-jitsu skills could be just the combination to do so.
Some nicknames just stand out among all others in mixed martial arts. Julio Paulino has one of those nicknames. But “The Dominican Demon” does not only stand out because of his nickname, as he has become quite a force at 170-pounds.
Paulino is currently on a dominant seven fight winning streak that includes five knockout victories and two submission victories. During his nineteen fight professional career, he has only gone to the judges’ scorecards three times, losing two of those decisions. However, out of his seventeen victories, only one has come via decision, as the Alaska Fighting Championship veteran has finished 16 of his 19 opponents.
The man welcoming Paulino to the Ultimate Fighting Championship is veteran Mike Pierce, whose six fight winning streak was ended last Dec. against Jon Fitch in a very competitive fight. Pierce has a professional record of 10-3, which includes a unanimous decision victory over Brock Larson last Sept.
Pierce will prove a difficult step up in competition for Paulino, who is yet to face the kind of competition the UFC can offer. However, with an opponent looking to get back on track, Paulino will look to utilize his solid base in wrestling, heavy hands, and submission prowess to notch another win onto his already impressive streak and introduce himself to the fans of the UFC as “The Dominican Demon”.