Hometown crowd sees welterweight win sixth straight
Jake Ellenberger kept on rolling through the UFC’s welterweight division on Wednesday night, but he got a bit of a scare in the last minute.
Ellenberger survived Diego Sanchez to win a 29-28 unanimous decision in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger, picking up his sixth straight victory. And he did it in front of his home crowd at the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Neb.
Ellenberger’s striking was on point for the first two rounds, and he had Sanchez’s face bloodied and his nose possibly broken. But in the third round, with about a minute left, Sanchez mounted a big rally and began raining down ground-and-pound on Ellenberger – even taking his back. But the hometown favorite survived to take the unanimous decision that really wasn’t as close as the 29-28 scores indicated – until the last minute or so of the fight.
“Diego’s known for (comebacks),” Ellenberger said. “He’s the toughest guy I’ve ever fought, and he’s a true warrior. No matter what, he’s in there every minute of the fight. It’s an honor to fight him – it really is. He’s been through so many wars. It was a great test for me.”
Ellenberger (27-5, 6-1 UFC) picked up his sixth straight win, and four of those have come by stoppage. The only loss of his UFC career came in his first fight with the promotion, a split decision loss to Carlos Condit, who earlier this month won the UFC’s interim welterweight title.
The questions came immediately about whether Ellenberger should get a crack at Condit’s interim belt – though UFC president Dana White has said he believes Condit is going to wait for champion Georges St-Pierre to get healthy and return late in 2012.
“I’m not sure (what’s next) – it’s up the UFC and Dana White and Joe (Silva),” Ellenberger said. “It’s just an honor to headline an event here in Omaha in front of everyone that I love.”
Ellenberger said Sanchez (23-5, 12-5 UFC), who said he had an ankle injury three weeks ago but didn’t want to pull out of the fight, definitely had him in trouble late in the third round.
“That was a tough position,” Ellenberger said. “I was tired, and I was trying to fight through it. I’ve been there a million times, and you just have to stay in it mentally. He’s a warrior. There’s a lot of things I have to work on, as I showed there in the third round. Each fight I take something out of it and get better. That’s what it’s all about – evolving.”
In the co-main event, Stefan Struve got off to a slow start against Dave Herman, who despite a height and reach advantage was the more effective striker in the first round. But in the second round, Struve landed a tight right uppercut that put Herman on his backside. Struve followed Herman to the ground, getting to full mount and landing ground and pound until the fight was stopped.
Also on the main card, Ronny Markes, fighting at middleweight for the first time after dropping from light heavyweight, got past Aaron Simpson with a split decision; heavyweight Stipe Miocic made a much bigger impression than in his debut with a 43-second knockout of Philip De Fries; TUF 14 product T.J. Dillashaw was absolutely dominant with a decision win over Walel Watson, getting two 30-25s and a 30-26; and Ivan Menjivar choked out TUF 14 contestant John Albert at 3:45 of the first round.