In the welterweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Jake Ellenberger has seen his name at the top of the rankings for years. He was a collegiate wrestler and has added Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to his repertoire since entering mixed martial arts. At various times in his career, he was seemingly knocking on the door to a title shot, but faltered when it mattered the most. At this stage in his career, he is still one of the best fighters in the division and can still pose a threat to the title if given the chance. To date, what are some of the top fights in the career of Jake Ellenberger?
Bellator 11: vs. Marcelo Alfaya
This was the first time Ellenberger competed in a top MMA promotion. He spent some time in the International Fight League, but Bellator was where he impressed the top brass at the UFC the most. He made just one appearance in the cage for Bellator and despite the fight not even lasting 60 seconds, made that lasting impression on those that watched the fight. Just 42 seconds in, he knocked out Alfaya with a punch. Four months later, he was in the UFC.
UFC Fight Night: Diaz vs. Guillard: vs. Carlos Condit
Ellenberger’s first test inside the Octagon came against a future title challenger and former World Extreme Cagefighting welterweight champion, Condit. At this stage in Condit’s career, he was coming off his first loss in three years in what was his UFC debut. After leaving WEC as their last welterweight champion, the last thing Condit wanted to do was lose two straight.
Enter his fight with Ellenberger and a big chance for both fighters to move up the ladder. These two men fought for 15 minutes in a close fight and after losing his first UFC fight via split decision, Condit recovered and beat Ellenberger via split decision. It was a tough loss for Ellenberger, but was the last one he would experience for nearly three years.
UFC 129: vs. Sean Pierson
Let’s not get it twisted and pretend that Pierson is one of the best fighters in the UFC welterweight division, but when these two men fought in 2011, the finish was impressive. The fact that Ellenberger accepted the fight on 17 days notice was astonishing in itself, but to knock him out 2:42 into the first round was that much more impressive.
UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger: vs. Jake Shields
At this stage in Ellenberger’s career, he had 25 career victories including four straight in the UFC. He was slowly creeping up the rankings in the UFC welterweight division and made a major step up in competition to fight the former Strikeforce middleweight champion and EliteXC welterweight champion, Shields. Shields came into this fight on a major low, losing his chance at winning the UFC welterweight title after being smothered by Georges St-Pierre for 25 minutes.
After being controlled and dominated by St-Pierre, Shields was hoping to move right back up the rankings, but 53 seconds into the fight, Ellenberger finished the former champion. It was a nice combination that features knees and punches that did in Shields and Ellenberger’s name was immediately being thrown into the title discussion.
UFC on Fuel TV: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger: vs. Diego Sanchez
For the second straight fight, Ellenberger was the main event of a cable television card, but for the second straight fight, couldn’t even get first bill on the card. His opponent on Fuel TV was former The Ultimate Fighter winner, Sanchez. The unorthodox Sanchez was and still is a popular fighter in the UFC and made things extremely difficult for Ellenberger. Fighting in the main event when they the UFC still only used three rounds, these two men went the distance and at the end of 15 minutes, it was Ellenberger who had his hand raised as the winner.
The Ultimate Fighter 15 Finale: vs. Martin Kampmann
Now for the third straight fight, Ellenberger found himself in the main event on a free card. Not that there is anything wrong with fighting for free, but at this stage in his career, as he was hoping to jump into the title hunt and the best way to do that was at a pay-per-view. A victory there may have been what Ellenberger needed to get the exposure needed to contend. He didn’t get that and took on another man who was always in the title discussion, Kampmann.
Coming into this fight, many fans and pundits thought that Ellenberger was going to rush through the Denmark native and fight for the world title. The only person that didn’t think this was probably Kampmann. Early in the second round, Ellenberger was rocked and surprised by a knee from Kampmann and his hopes of fighting for the title were dashed.
UFC 158: vs. Nate Marquardt
To follow up his loss to Kampmann, Ellenberger fought Jay Hieron and beat him via unanimous decision before moving on to fight former Strikeforce welterweight champion, Marquardt. Fighting in front of a raucous crowd in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Ellenberger proved to be too much for Marquardt, knocking him out just three minutes into the fight. The win was much needed for Ellenberger and one that has helped him stay in the discussion as one of the best welterweights in the world.
SF 23: Heated Rivals: vs. Rick Story
If you are a fan of Story, you know that he has taken part in many exciting fights throughout his MMA career. One of those incredible fights was contested in Portland, Oregon and saw him take on Ellenberger. Ellenberger was 17-3 at this point and was coming off a huge victory in the IFL against current UFC fighter, Pat Healy. On the contrary, Story was coming off a victory of his own against Healy’s twin brother, Ryan Healy.
The fight with Ellenberger was just the seventh of Story’s career and despite the difference in experience; Story was able to do enough in the eyes of the judges to get the unanimous decision victory.