MMA Interviews

Joe Ellenberger: ‘There are actually two Ellenbergers that can fight’

Twin brother of UFC star Jake Ellenberger looks to make statement on Friday

There is a particular amount of modesty and humility that comes naturally to Midwesterners, and Joe Ellenberger is no exception.

Much like the farmers who make their living harvesting the flat lands on which he was raised, there is no time limit on a day’s work. Training alongside his fraternal twin brother, UFC welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger, together the Ellenberger brothers push each other toward success based on the belief that what you get out is truly based on the effort that was put in.

For Joe, the sacrifice and commitment to his training built upon the goal of constant progression, and he plans on putting the fruits of his labor on display when he makes his Titan Fighting Championships debut Friday on HDNet.

“I think progression is the most important thing for me at this point,” Ellenberger told HeavyMMA. “I’m definitely trying to make a statement with every fight I go into, but I’m also looking to improve and evolve. In the two years I was away from the sport, things evolved at a fairly rapid rate and I feel like I have some catching up to do. Just being able to get back on the horse and get back to competing, I feel fortunate to have the coaches and training partners that have helped me get here. My personal progression is the goal I’m setting for this upcoming fight.

“It’s going to be a great fight, and there are exciting bouts up and down the card. It’s a testament to the matchmaking at Titan and the people they’ve been able to bring in. I’m excited to fight for TFC and I’m going to put on a great show in my debut.”

Ellenberger will face Jesse Zeugin when he returns to action in Kansas City. While most fight camps typically run in the vicinity of eight weeks, due to helping his brother prepare for his bout with Diego Sanchez, Ellenberger has been back on the grind for several months. During this time, Ellenberger has added new angles to his fight game and has continued to improve his striking skills.

“I had the opportunity to train with Mark Munoz and company while I was helping Jake prepare for his fight,” he said. “I also spent some time at Kings MMA, as well. It was a great opportunity to focus on my skill set in addition to helping my brother. Then I returned to Omaha and started to focus on getting my shape and weight down to where it needed to be. This has been a great training camp, and I’ve really been able to put it all together.

“The improvement I’m experiencing in my striking is a testament to the guys around me. I’ve been able to focus largely on my striking for this past year – I’ve definitely seen big gains in my abilities. I’ve put a lot of time into it and hopefully it will be something fans get to see on Friday night.”

The matchup between Ellenberger and Zeugin features two fighters who come from solid wrestling backgrounds. As is most often the case when two wrestlers are put in the cage, there is a good chance the action will take place on the feet, a scenario and possibility Ellenberger is excited about. If all goes according to plan, not only will Ellenberger be able to put his hard work to task, but he’ll also be able to make a statement to the rest of the MMA world.

“I haven’t seen a ton of his fights, but I know he’s got some pretty good size for a 155-pound fighter,” Ellenberger said. “He has a solid wrestling base and his grappling is his strongest point. Obviously coming from a wrestling background, I’m sure he’s put a lot of work into his hands and I think we are pretty evenly matched. With us both being wrestlers, it is probably going to be a standup fight – but that will make it interesting and fun.

“I’m approaching this fight the same way I do any other fight I’ve been involved in. I’m looking to make a statement. Some people are under the impression that I’m trying to gain notoriety from my name or they see my brother and other people I train with and associate me with them. This is a false notion, and anyone who knows me understands nothing could be further from the truth.

“I work side-by-side with Jake, and we push each other to get better. Having your twin brother and your best friend always there with you is obviously a great confidence booster. It’s always very encouraging and it works both ways for us. Even though we are both on our own paths and attempting to stake our individual claims in different weight classes in the MMA world, I definitely don’t think I would be the same if I didn’t have him. With this fight, I’m looking to go out there and make a statement to show the world there are actually two Ellenbergers that can fight.”

 

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