Welterweights will meet in Omaha
Sources close to the fighters on Tuesday confirmed the fight booking to Heavy.com. The fight is expected to take place in Omaha, Neb., where Ellenberger lives and trains. It is expected to be the main event on Fuel TV. Heavy.com reported last week that the fight would go down sometime during the winter months, though at the time a date and location had not yet been selected. The UFC has yet to formally announce the matchup or the Fuel event. MMA Junkie first reported news of the date and location on Tuesday.
Sanchez has been recovering from a broken hand that took him out of a UFC 135 fight against Matt Hughes. Not long after that event in September, Sanchez was first linked to a fight with Ellenberger, possibly for UFC 141 next month in Las Vegas. His recovery made that time frame impossible, but the fight apparently was kept on the table until he would be ready.
Sanchez (23-4, 12-4 UFC), the Season 1 middleweight winner of "The Ultimate Fighter," has won two straight. He returned to the welterweight division following a loss to BJ Penn at UFC 107 for the lightweight title, but ran into the unbeaten John Hathaway, who dominated him at UFC 114. He rebounded with a unanimous decision win over Paulo Thiago, then a controversial unanimous decision victory over Martin Kampmann at UFC on Versus 3 in March.
Ellenberger (26-5, 5-1 UFC) has been one of the welterweight division's hottest contenders. The wrestler has won five straight, four by stoppage. In September, he won arguably the biggest fight of his career, knocking out Jake Shields in just 53 seconds in New Orleans. His only UFC loss came in his promotional debut, a split decision setback against Carlos Condit at UFC Fight Night 19.
Under the UFC's new network deal with Fox, the promotion will also hold live fight cards on the FX cable channel and Fuel TV. The first FX event was officially announced Monday for Jan. 20 in Nashville, Tenn. FX reaches roughly 100 million homes – about the same as Spike TV, the UFC's current primary cable partner. The deal with Spike expires at the end of this year. Fuel TV reaches a reported 26 million homes.