darren-elkins-8.jpgAfter his Saturday win at UFC 158, Darren Elkins was looking for a Top 10 opponent. The UFC will oblige him, and then some – and in a hurry.

Elkins (16-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) stopped Antonio Carvalho (15-6 MMA, 2-2 UFC) this past weekend with a first-round TKO to improve to 5-0 as a featherweight – the first fighter to attain such a mark in the UFC.

The quick win put him in position for a quick return, and he’ll step in for an injured Clay Guida and meet Chad Mendes (13-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) at UFC on FOX 7 next month. Sources with knowledge of the fight told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) of the booking. UFC officials later made a formal announcement.

UFC on FOX 7 takes place April 20 at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The main card, featuring a lightweight title fight between champion Benson Henderson and final Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez, airs on FOX following prelims on FX and Facebook.

Mendes vs. Elkins likely will take the featured slot on FX.

Elkins’ win over Carvalho marked his first stoppage victory as a featherweight after four straight unanimous-decision victories. Although the former lightweight was dominant in his wins and frequently worked to end the fights, the nature of the unanimous decisions kept him flying under the radar at a quiet 4-0 at 145 pounds.

Prior to the fight with Carvalho, he told MMAjunkie.com he was seeking a stoppage in order to start making some waves. And he got it – though it didn’t come without controversy. Many believed the fight was stopped early when Carvalho quickly popped back to his feet just as referee Yves Lavigne was holding back Elkins from landing more punches. But even Carvalho admitted after the fight he was in trouble from the punches.

Before the TKO of Carvalho, Elkins had scored decision wins over Steven Siler, Diego Brandao, Michihiro Omigawa and Tiquan Zhang in the UFC.

Mendes has won two straight, both by first-round knockout, after losing a featherweight title fight to Jose Aldo at UFC 142. In that fight, the champ knocked him out with just one second left in the first round, which marked the first loss of Mendes’ career.

But he came back this past July to stop Cody McKenzie with a body shot in just 31 seconds, and in December, he beat newcomer Yaotzin Meza with a knockout in less than two minutes.

Mendes, a Team Alpha Male product, has been plagued with opponent switches of late. He was supposed to meet Hacran Dias at UFC on FX 6 in December but was given Meza as a late replacement when Dias. The quick win in that fight had him back in a hurry and expecting to fight Manny Gamburyan at UFC 157 this past month. But Gamburyan suffered and injury and instead of throwing Mendes another late replacement, he was bumped to UFC on FOX 7 vs. Guida. Now, with Guida out, he’ll have about a month to prepare for Elkins.

The latest UFC on FOX 7 card now includes:

MAIN CARD (FOX, 8 p.m. ET)

  • Champ Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez – for lightweight title
  • Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir
  • Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson
  • Matt Brown vs. Dan Hardy

PRELIMINARY CARD (FX, 5 p.m. ET)

  • Darren Elkins vs. Chad Mendes
  • Norman Parke vs. Jon Tuck
  • Francis Carmont vs. Lorenz Larkin
  • Myles Jury vs. Ramsey Nijem
  • Francisco Rivera vs. Hugo Viana
  • Jorge Masvidal vs. Tim Means

PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook, 3:35 p.m. ET)

  • Roger Bowling vs. Anthony Njokuani
  • Clifford Starks vs. Yoel Romero
  • Joseph Benavidez vs. Darren Uyenoyama

For more on UFC on FOX 7, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

(Pictured: Darren Elkins)

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