The mixed martial arts community is one that can quickly lift up a new face after a big victory and then watch them fall after a loss; forgetting all of their past accolades. At one point an individual can be the next in line for a title shot and then one sudden defeat strips them from that position. Jake Ellenberger is the most recent fighter to find himself in such a position. As we near UFC 158 this weekend, “the Juggernaut” is looking to get back on the move.
With four years of service under the Zuffa banner, Jake Ellenberger has put together quite an impressive record. He’s 7-2 in the Octagon and had at one point won six straight fights. With his smashing of Jake Shields at UFC Fight Night 25 in 2011 he pushed his way into the title picture. Many expected him to get an eventual shot at Georges St. Pierre and with his blend of wrestling and striking he would have been a captivating challenge for the dominating champion. However, his career went on a different path very quickly.
During the UFC’s first event on Fuel TV Ellenberger was placed against Diego Sanchez who was looking very shaky at 170 pounds. This was supposed to be a showcase bout for Jake to prove that he should be considered the number 1 contender to the belt. Instead, he nearly loss that fight when Sanchez was able to increase the pressure in the later rounds and Jake was potentially saved by this bout being a three round main event. Four months later Ellenberger found himself crumpled on the cage floor when Martin Kampmann hung on from a first round beating to TKO the Nebraska native. That quickly the aura was gone.
Since then, Ellenberger defeated Jay Hieron in a rematch of their 2006 fight but didn’t look incredibly impressive in the matchup. He’s facing former Strikeforce champion and UFC middleweight contender Nate Marquardt. While Ellenberger is the slight favorite by betting outlets coming into the contest, it is very difficult to think of Nate as incapable of winning this fight. He’s always displayed a crisp striking attack and while he has slightly struggled against takedown based fighters, this bout hinges on Ellenberger’s ability to get in close without taking multiple shots. If Nate can land a combination like he did on Tyson Woodley then this bout can quickly be over and Ellenberger potentially on his way out of the UFC.
Professional sports have always been a “what have you done for me lately” world, but the MMA community, particularly the UFC, is even more drastic. Ellenberger went from top contender to middle of the pack in rapid fashion and he needs this win on Saturday to prove that he shouldn’t be questioned as he moves back towards title contention.