Is there anything better than a spirited, entertaining fight at the end of which both competitors emerge with their stock raised? I’ll tell you what would be better: Comcast cable’s San Francisco Bay Area division removing their underused cranium from the stranglehold of their own buttocks long enough to pick up Fuel TV so I don’t have to scour the underbelly of the internet, relinquish my email address to the web marketing ether and fill out a survey about what I’m looking for in a Caribbean Luxury Hotel just so I can watch last night’s scrap. That aside, last night’s main event was a good one and a career builder for both fighters involved....
I’ve been an Ellenberger fan ever since his octagon debut against Carlos Condit, a bout that is now starting to look like a first installment in a what could be one of the more entertaining trilogies in UFC history. Though a close fight, I thought Ellenberger was robbed of a decision victory, nearly decapitating the incredibly durable Condit several times in the first round. Either way, an undeniable statement had been made, a new top welterweight prospect had emerged, possessing that effective combination of potent wrestling and lightning fast, KO-powerful strikes. Since that “loss” Ellenberger has steamrolled the competition, gradually improving his skills with each fight.
Last night was a quantum leap.
Fans who have been paying attention are well aware of Ellenberger’s wrestling, KO power and all-around athleticism. Last night, the welterweight contender displayed the newest addition to his arsenal: the skills of a savvy counter-striker. In addition to the power and speed of his hands, The Juggernaut has taken his striking to the next level with impressive improvements in timing, head movement and all around technical boxing, catching Diego Sanchez repeatedly in the midst of exchanges and even landing effective shots while retreating from The Dream’s patented bull rush. Simply put, Ellenberger has become one of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC’s welterweight division. If you can’t take him down (which his wrestling makes very difficult) and you can’t knock him out (granite chin), you have a serious problem. Ellenberger’s immediate future seems to include either a shot at Condit’s interim title (depending on whether or not Carlos waits for GSP) or a showdown with fellow top contender Johnny Hendrix, either road a potential path to a title shot. Whether or not Jake can take the title from GSP is a matter for another article.
Despite adding a notch to his loss column, Diego Sanchez proved once again that he can still hang in there with a top welterweight and that, short of taking an unconsciousness-induced canvas nap, he can never be counted out of any fight at any point. Though outclassed for the first two rounds, The Dream’s late 3rd round rally makes one wonder if this fight would not have been a much closer contest if scheduled for the 5 rounds we normally see in a headlining bout. Sanchez may not have a title shot in his immediate future but he reminded fans that he deserves his spot in the welterweight mix and he is nothing if not fun to watch. Though the current rankings may not merit it, I for one would love to see a rematch of Sanchez’s bout with Josh Koscheck from years ago. Though the first fight was relatively unexciting, it took place during Diego’s short-lived love affair with boxing, resulting in him losing a jabbing contest to Kos. A different, more aggressive approach in the rematch could yield a war. Seeing as how Josh is at best 5th in line for a title shot, this fight could make sense.