After seven years and 16 fights in the UFC, Darren Elkins believes it’s finally his time.

Indiana’s Elkins has been part of the promotion longer than the featherweight division he competes in, making his debut at lightweight in March 2010. But it took a win over Mirsad Bektic in one of the UFC’s most memorable comebacks to get the spotlight.

“That fight put me on the map and a lot of people reached out about it, telling me how great a fight it was,” Elkins said. “It’s been an unreal experience.”

Elkins (22-5, 12-4 UFC) looks for his fifth consecutive win against Lindenhurst’s Dennis Bermudez at UFC on Fox 25 on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.

Elkins was the biggest underdog on the UFC 209 card last April, which seemed fitting as Bektic mauled him through the first two rounds. He entered the third round with a dangerous cut above his eye and trailing 20-17 on all three scorecards.

“I knew I lost the two rounds, I knew it could’ve been a 10-8 first round,” Elkins said. “But going into the third round, I knew I couldn’t just win the round, I knew I had to finish him.”

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Elkins did just that in the third, coming out of nowhere to land a series of punches and a head kick that sent the previously unbeaten Bektic crumbling headfirst into the canvas for a TKO.

“I was as calm as could be. I knew I had to get something going, but I was never in a state where I thought I couldn’t win the fight,” Elkins said. “I knew it was going to be hard to win the fight, but I never thought I can’t win the fight.”

Elkins said the fight proved he has the toughness to compete for a title and become a star in the featherweight division.

“I’ve always had heart and I’ve always had mental toughness and it just showed in that fight how tough I really am,” he said.

UFC brass appears to have noticed.

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Elkins and Bermudez will fight in the co-main event on Saturday, the first of Elkins’ UFC career. It’s Elkins’ first appearance on the main card since October 2014 when he fought Lucas Martins at UFC 179. The spotlight is a longtime coming for Elkins, but he believes it’s coming at just the right time in an up-and-down career.

“It’s been some good and some bad. For me, my career has been great. Should there be more respect? Yeah, I think I could I have gotten some more respect, but at the same time everything happens for a reason,” Elkins said. “I believe this is my destiny and now is my time to shine. I’m peaking at the right time in my career, I’ve had the most experience in my career and I’m not worried about the past. I have an opportunity right here and if I want to take advantage of it, I’ve got to do it right now.”

Elkins believes this bout could lead to a matchup with a top contender, then potentially a shot at the featherweight title, but he’ll have to solve Bermudez first.

“He’s tough but he has his weaknesses,” Elkins said of Bermudez. “Obviously he’s been knocked down a few times, knocked out a few times. Right now, he’s hot and cold. I think he’s going to have some self-doubt and, at the same time, he’s in a must-win situation fighting in front of his hometown. He’s got a lot more added pressure than I do right now.”

Bermudez, who trains at Long Island MMA in Farmingdale, is coming off a knockout loss to Chan Sung Jung. Elkins thinks he might be vulnerable to being finished once again.

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“I think it’s going to be there,” Elkins said. “I think it’s going to be hard to get him in the beginning, he’s fast and explosive, but there’s going to be a time when he’s exposed for it and I’m going to capitalize on it.”