The Fighting Life: Jake Ellenberger

Jake Ellenberger

Ellenberger goes in-depth on family, friends and fighting in the UFC

The life of a professional fighter is filled with uncertainty. Success and failure play out in the public eye for all to see.

When the cage door closes and the battle of wills begin, it becomes a matter of opportunity. One fighter walks away victorious, the other defeated, the outcome sometimes determined by only the slightest of margins.

What happens under the bright lights is what the fans are left to debate, but rarely are they given a glimpse into what it takes to make the walk to the cage in the first place.

This is what the climb looks like – told in their own words. This is “The Fighting Life.”


Passion can be an amazing thing. When the body reaches its physical limits and the mind is stretched thin, passion alone can be the intangible factor that drives an athlete further than he previously believed possible.

For UFC welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger, passion has made all the difference.

“I’ve never been the best at any certain aspect of MMA,” Ellenberger said. “I’ve never been the best submission guy. I’ve never been the best wrestler. But my passion to compete and my heart are what set me apart from other fighters. My brother and a lot of other guys I’ve looked up to have shown me that hard work pays off.

“MMA is not a sport where a single attribute makes the difference. What has gotten me this far is the fire that burns inside of me. I have a passion to compete and I’m always going to have the heart to push further, no matter the circumstance. I’m still young in this sport. Looking down the road, I can see myself being the champion. It may not be 2012, but I’ve dedicated my life to becoming a world champion. I’m confident I’ll accomplish it.”

Ellenberger was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. It was the perfect place to craft a blue-collar work ethic. While Ellenberger would go on to be a standout in both football and wrestling, it was his time spent knocking around with his twin brother Joe that truly shaped his visions for the future.

“I grew up in the Midwest, and there is a big wrestling community out there. My brother Joe had been wrestling since I was really little. I used to follow him around all the time. Going to the gym for workouts and watching him compete sparked that desire in me.

“My brother was definitely my inspiration to get into mixed martial arts. We actually both fought on the same night the first time I competed. We more or less did it for fun. It was one of those situations where you think you’re tough and you want to see what it’s like to go through a fight. We did and we both were immediately hooked.”

To say mixed martial arts was a good fit with Ellenberger is an understatement. Just shy of a year since the night he TKO’d Cameron Wells in Omaha, he’d already packed eleven more victories under his belt. The heat he created on the regional circuit earned him a call from the now-defunct IFL. It was a natural progression.

“The IFL was a good experience for me. They had a lot of good competition and a lot of solid fighters in the organization. The biggest attraction for me was the coaching. There were so many people I looked up to who were involved in that aspect. At the time the IFL was doing well. They were taking care of their fighters and it was kind of the place to go.”

[page next=”Moving to the UFC”/]