Last night at UFC Fight Night 25, it took Jake Ellenberger less than one minute to light up former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields. To show how quickly fortunes can change in MMA, Shields is now 0-2 in his recent return to the UFC, and Ellenberger has quietly elevated himself to near number one contender status.
This was supposed to be a comeback fight for Shields, who is coming off a loss to welterweight champion Georges St Pierre. He also underwent recent personal tragedy with the loss of his father Jack Shields.
What is clear is that Ellenberger is explosive. He was able to handle Shields’ attempts at takedowns, literally tossing him around. Shields got dropped by a knee and then ate a flurry of punches until the referee stopped the fight. It is never a good thing when a fighter is still instinctually defending against the ref, but that is what Shields was doing. He was hurt and hurt bad by Ellenberger.
Ellenberger has been around for a while now, and he is showing great improvement adding to his wrestling base. It will be very interesting to see what the UFC does with him next. His last loss was to Carlos Condit, who is in the next welterweight title fight. There is also the specter of Nick Diaz in the division so Ellenberger may be one fight away from a title shot.
I’m a believer in making good, hard fights, and I think Ellenberger is not the type of guy who will shy away from trying to win one more.
I would match him up with fellow elite wrestler at welterweight Jon Fitch. It is an interesting fight in that the UFC seems at a loss at what to do with Fitch. As stated both come from a wrestling background, but they are very different. Fitch is a long bodied wreslter, while Ellenberger is very compact, though obviously both are strong and come with Division 1 wrestling pedigree. The matchup is likely to force both men to show us some stand up fighting, as it will likely be a stalemate on the wrestling end.
As for Jake Shields, he is going to have to reassess his situation. He was remarkably successful for years, with many experts calling him the best fighter not in the UFC. The switch to UFC has not gone his way, however.
He also had some success at 185 lbs, beating Dan Henderson in Strikeforce. Perhaps it is the weight cut that is affecting him, though I would like to see him stay at 170 lbs. I would like to see him take a few months off, but I would not like to see the UFC cut him yet, he has more to show.