Welterweight understands the importance of Saturday's main event
The UFC welterweight division is deeper than it has been in years.
When Jake Ellenberger squares off with former number one contender Jake Shields at UFC Fight Night 25: Battle on the Bayou tomorrow night, he'll be looking to put himself "in the mix" as Dana White would say. Earlier this week, “The Juggernaut” spoke to Heavy MMA about the match-up.
“I really believe it is going to come down to me keeping my composure throughout the fight and keeping the pressure on him. The pressure is going to be important. If I can keep the pressure on him and my offense up, I’m going to win this fight.
"I’m in shape and I’m coming after him; I’m hungry. I’m really going to push the offense and make him fight my game; definitely expect an exciting fight.
“I don’t know if he’ll stand with me," continued the 26-year-old Nebraska native. "I can’t really be sure of that, but I’ve been training in all aspects, so I’m well-rounded and ready for anything. I’ve been training everything from striking to transitions, and I’m expecting the best Jake Shields there is come Saturday night.”
Despite an impressive winning streak, Ellenberger’s status in the weight class is unclear.
His only loss in the past three years came via split decision to the man who will follow Shields in list of challengers for the UFC welterweight title, Carlos Condit. Since then, Ellenberger has put together four consecutive victories, including three stoppages, but he still remains on the outside of the top 10 looking in.
Rather than focus on rankings, Ellenberger chooses to enjoy the competition.
“As far as respect goes, in the big scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m doing what I love to do and I think at the end of the day, it all comes down to winning. No matter what, I’m just blessed to get to do what I love to do and compete and fight. I don’t feel I’m overlooked.
“A win could possibly put me in line for a title shot, but I haven’t really thought too much about that. I’m focused right now on this fight and Jake Shields, so I haven’t thought about anything beyond that.”
Whether Ellenberger would be considered for a title shot remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain—his stock is on the rise. For the UFC’s return to New Orleans, they've tapped him to headline the card opposite Shields. While the honor could bring added presses, Ellenberger is approaching it no different than any other fight.
“I don’t feel any more pressure than I would for a normal fight. It really just comes down to feeling comfortable with competing, so in that aspect, I don’t think it’s any different from any other fight I’ve had. It is definitely an honor to headline a UFC card; I’m honored to be a part of it and it’s cool to do, but I wouldn’t say there was any more pressure than normal.”
Following his win over Sean Pierson at UFC 129, Ellenberger made a permanent relocation to Orange County, and began with training Mark Munoz at his Reign Training Facility. Grinding on a daily basis with the likes of Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Krzysztof Soszynski and company have prepared him for Saturday night.
“I really wanted to put myself in the best possible position to train and advance my career, and Reign is where that is for me. Those guys have been great, and Mark Munoz has really helped me in a lot of different ways. It has been amazing for me.”