Elkins, an Indiana-based lightweight who went 1-1 in his two UFC appearances last year, will drop to featherweight for his next bout in the promotion. Elkins confirmed the plan with MMA Fighting on Wednesday.
Elkins (12-2, 1-1 UFC) was scheduled to fight Edson Barboza at UFC 123 in November, but a knee injury forced him out of the contest just 10 days before the bout – news that was first reported by MMA Fighting. Chicago-area fighter Mike Lullo replaced Elkins and suffered a TKO loss to Barboza, eating a barrage of leg kicks in the process from the Muay Thai-based newcomer.
Elkins said he recently was given clearance from a doctor to return, but does not yet have an opponent for his featherweight debut. He said making the drop is something he has been thinking about, though.
"I've been wanting to make (the drop) for a while," Elkins said. "(At my size), 155 isn't much of a cut. I just feel like it's a better weight for me."
Elkins won his UFC debut at UFC Live on Versus 1 last March. The former Indiana state champion wrestler took Duane Ludwig down early in the fight, snapping his leg in the process for a TKO victory. But in his second bout for the promotion, at UFC Live on Versus 2 last August, Elkins was walking back to the locker room with a loss about as quickly as he had won his debut. Against Charles Oliveira, Elkins again scored an early takedown – but was caught in a guillotine that Oliveira quickly transitioned to an armbar. Elkins tapped out 41 seconds into the fight.
Elkins said his injury rehab has given him all his strength and flexibility back, and that UFC matchmaker Joe Silva was agreeable to him dropping from lightweight to featherweight.
Last fall, the UFC announced a merger with sister promotion WEC, which brought 135-, 145- and 155-pounders into the UFC. Only the lightweight division was a crossover between the two promotions, meaning the 155-pound class had a sudden influx of talent. There are currently 56 lightweight fighters listed at UFC.com, but only 26 featherweights. (The site has Elkins listed under its welterweight roster.)
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