Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
I'll get to giving Jake Ellenberger his credit in a few minutes, but first I have to ask the most important question of the evening: Why was the main event between Ellenberger and Diego Sanchez not five rounds? We were told that Diego was a win away from a title shot and we know that Ellenberger is in the proverbial "mix" at the top of the division. I fail to see how this fight didn't deserve the same treatment as all other main event fights between contenders. We were robbed of the drama of a final two rounds between two men who were putting on a great show and should have been proving their ability to go five rounds and be ready to be fully in the conversation for a title shot.
Ellenberger deserved the win, but I think rounds four and five would have proved a lot about both men and their readiness for a shot at Carlos Condit.
Update: As soon as I hit publish, Dana White said at the press conference that they blew it and the main event should have been five rounds and they will be in the future.
On to the notes from the evening:
- Jake Ellenberger looked great for the majority of the first two rounds. He is one of the few fighters where moving around the cage is actual solid and legitimate footwork, not just walking in different directions. His movement sets up his strikes and he transitions from movement to sitting down with power on his punches beautifully. He is worthy of a shot at Carlos Condit over the summer and that's a fight that the UFC should look to make.
- Diego could have mentally broken as the fight seemed to slip away, but in round three it was Diego looking to make something happen from the opening bell. He was getting the better of striking exchanges in the third and Jake got the takedown but Diego was able to take advantage of a small mistake and get dominant position and fire away with strikes. It was a bit short of a 10-8 round, but Diego made sure that he put on a performance that keeps him as a viable top-end fighter at 170 pounds.
- Ellenberger became the last fighter on the night to not understand that when Jon Anik asks what you want next, that they want a soundbyte to use hyping up a future fight. Calling out Condit in front of a ravenous fanbase would have been a great moment. Bust out a "you know I won the first time" or something. Hype up a fight and make fans want to see it.
- Stefan Struve remains one of my favorite fighters on the planet. He is flawed enough to make fights exciting, but good enough to pull out wins in exciting fashion. For all of Struve's faults, Dave Herman is just as flawed and even more vulnerable to allow other men to exploit those flaws. And that's exactly what happened as Struve managed to find his rhythm in the second round and use combinations to drop him, get mount and finish.
More after the jump...
- Ronny Markes looked good, but for some reason I'm still not a big fan. His toughness getting through being blasted by Aaron Simpson in the first round was commendable, but I'm still waiting to see just a little more from Markes before I'm ready to really jump on that bandwaggon.
- Philip De Fries pushes his punches so much that getting into a firefight with Stipe Miocic was destined to end poorly. Miocic's striking is not as good as advertised due to the (almost always pointless) "golden gloves champion" title, but he has more snap on his punches so he was able to finish him off.
- T.J. Dillashaw put a beating on Walel Watson that was simultaneously dominant and disappointing. While Dillashaw put a beating on Watson, he wasn't able to get a finish despite constant dominant position, it left a bit to be desired even while being impressive.
- Poor Ivan Menjivar and John Albert. Those two had a fantastic one round battle that Menjivar won with a rear naked choke but it was so early in the broadcast that it was basically forgotten by the main event, and the main event was a better fight anyway. But those guys deserve credit for going out and putting on a fun show in the broadcast opener.
- Jonathan Brookins is a legit talent. He was able to survive some early good moments by Vagner Rocha, take advantage of getting mount and then show real killer instinct. I think the next two years are going to show some real growth on the part of Brookins as he establishes himself.
- I'd rather not talk about Justin Salas against Anton Kuivanen. I though that fight was horrible.
- Tim Means looked really impressive in his fight against Bernardo Magalhaes in the show opening bout. I think Magalhaes should be released on this performance, but Means was very solid in using the knees and combination striking that just dominated Magalaes.