UFC on Fuel TV 1: Ellenberger punishes Sanchez
Fans got the dogfight they were expecting when hometown favourite Jake ‘The Juggernaut’ Ellenberger (27-5) defeated Diego ‘The Dream’ Sanchez (25-5) in a well deserved unanimous decision, but it was far from easy for the Nebraskan. Both men had flattened noses and blood pouring over open mouths when the fight ended.
Sanchez’s game plan had been to move forward, get Ellenberger to the fence, and tie him up before taking him down. Ellenberger’s power, and a counter punch that dropped Sanchez early on, put a stop to that tactic.
Sanchez is not as effective when circling or moving backward, so Ellenberger used his superior striking and power advantage to keep Sanchez from controlling the fight. Ellenberger was mastering the distance between them, and out striking Sanchez by more than a 2 to 1 ratio. The difference in power could be heard with the slap of leather from the 4 ounce gloves.
In the second round, Ellenberger had Diego backing up, and continued to pepper him with heavy strikes, scoring his own take down against Sanchez close to the end of the round. But Ellenberger wasn’t happy to use top control to score points. He threw a flurry of short, crisp elbows and fists, cutting Sanchez. Sanchez has been prone to bleeding, so the fans in Omaha cheered wildly when the round ended and Sanchez got up off the mat.
Ellenberger had clearly won the first two rounds, and had Sanchez down but not out. The third began with more of Ellenberger’s hard shots and commanding Octagon control, until Sanchez began a flurry that rocked Ellenberger and had him pushing for a takedown to avoid the onslaught. He got Sanchez to the mat, but ended up underneath and awkwardly mounted near the fence, scrambling to survive brutal ground and pound. When the bell rang to end the fight, Ellenberger had found his way up and had put Sanchez against the fence.
Although Sanchez is a tough opponent for anyone—he’s never been knocked out or submitted--- BJ Penn handled him much more easily than did Ellenberger. In that fight, Penn was never in any trouble, and the referee stopped the match in the fifth due to the damage inflicted on Sanchez.
In a division riddled with talent---one that BJ Penn retired from after his drubbing at the hands of Nick Diaz--- the win does not put Ellenberger in obvious title fight contention, even though the fight may end up being one of the year’s best. Smart money will be on Carlos Condit if Dana gives Ellenberger a shot at the interim belt.
Twenty-three year old, 6’11” Dutchman Stefan ‘Skyscraper’ Struve impressed with much improved stand-up and a superb ground game in beating muscle bound Dave Herman, who fought clean-shaven and waxed in 2011, but tonight entered the Octagon bearded, hairy and looking like the Mountain Man.
Herman held his own at first, displaying high-level, crisp punches and kicks, and even powered out of a fully mounted Struve. But in the second round, the Dutch fighter began putting together combinations rather than lone strikes. He dropped Herman with an uppercut preceded by a kick, and finished up on the ground.
While not yet title shot material, Struve is showing a trait that Jon ‘Bones’ Jones has: centeredness and relative invulnerability when applying a variety of techniques. Struve’s frame will never afford him the grace of a smaller fighter, but Herman won’t be thinking about grace tonight while strapping ice packs to his cheekbones.