The UFC's welterweight division has consistently provided quality match-ups on major events in the past. UFC 126, one of the most significant cards of the year, doesn't have that same spark from the division, but the division will be well-represented by an interesting showdown between Midwest-bred wrestler Jake Ellenberger (23-5, 2-1 UFC) and German-based, Brazilian-born Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Carlos Eduardo Rocha (9-0, 1-0 UFC). Rocha is coming off of a quick submission win over The Ultimate Fighter 11 finalist Kris McCray at UFC 122 in Germany back in November while Ellenberger dispatched of John Howard via TKO at UFC on Versus II in August.
Stylistically, this match-up pits the classic wrestling style of Ellenberger against Rocha's grappling prowess. In the modern era, that normally doesn't bode well for jiu-jitsu practitioners as the overwhelming strength and control game of the wrestler turned mixed martial artist normally prevails. There are, however, exceptions to every hypothesis, and that normally runs parallel with the "power grappler" type. Rocha isn't exactly the blueprint of that type of fighter, but there is no question that his technique is dangerous enough to threaten Ellenberger.
Ellenberger's powerful punching and dominant wrestling should be his means to winning this fight handily. I'd predict a strong performance from top control if he were fighting a striker, but Rocha's stand-up game is far less dangerous. Ellenberger's propensity to strike against fellow ground fighters make this a somewhat predictable fight in terms of strategy, and I'd give him the edge in maintaining this fight on the feet over three rounds.
Ellenberger will need to avoid any chess matches on the ground with Rocha. His brand of jiu-jitsu is very dangerous as he has a diverse repertoire of submissions in his skill-set. One mistake, and Ellenberger could be in serious trouble. But overall, I feel Ellenberger should hold his ground standing and batter Rocha on his way to a TKO win on Saturday night.