Jake Ellenberger suffered his first loss in over a year against a hungry Rory MacDonald at UFC on FOX 8 this past weekend. “The Juggernaut” seemed to be chasing the highlight blow throughout the fight, but was unable to land it. The quick feet and distance control of MacDonald really made it difficult for Ellenberger to find his game. Not only was he making Ellenberger miss, but he was landing some great kicks and quick jabs of his own. MacDonald may not have won in the most decisive manner, but he did enough to come away with a unanimous decision.
What’s next for Jake Ellenberger?
With the rematch between Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann set for late August, where does this leave Ellenberger? According to the UFC rankings, there are only a handful of fighters readily available to fight Ellenberger. Could he get a rematch of his own against the loser of Condit and Kampmann? Or should he get a chance at the loser of Johny Hendricks and Georges St-Pierre? While the first option seems more likely, the factor of time synchronization remains a key issue. Ellenberger will have already fought one month before the Condit vs. Kampmann rematch, and will have to wait even longer for the loser of Hendricks vs. St-Pierre. After coming off such a loss, you can bet your bottom dollar that Ellenberger will be ready to go much sooner, leaving a very big question mark for his next opponent.
One fighter on the outside looking in is Demian Maia. Currently ranked fifth in the UFC Welterweight division, Maia has yet to lose since joining the 170 weight class. His most recent loss came at the hands of Chris Weidman back in January of 2012 in the Middleweight division. Maia was supposed to fight Josh Koscheck at UFC 163 on August 3rd, but Koscheck pulled out due to injury, forcing the UFC to pull Maia off the card too. With that said, according to numerous sources, Maia has been lined up to fight Jake Shields some time this fall, but it is still not official.
Another fighter, with even bigger question marks surrounding him, is Nick Diaz. Currently ranked 6th overall – Diaz is coming off two straight losses, one to Condit and the other to St-Pierre. He has since retired from the UFC, starting his own organization entitled WAR MMA Promotions. The Cesar Gracie fighter would be a great opponent for Ellenberger, utilizing his striking abilities against a fighter who is very confident in his hands. Nevertheless, according to recent reports, Diaz is far from a UFC return, making both his future and the future of the welterweight division even blurrier.
So, to ask again, where does this leave Ellenberger? Personally, if Maia is not an option, I think it should be Robbie Lawler. In his last two fights, Lawler has proven the comeback is no fluke, meaning he could be entitled to more quality opponents. Lawler’s original opponent for UFC on FOX 8, Tarec Saffiedine, would have been a candidate as well. He was the last Strikeforce welterweight champion and, had he beaten Lawler, would have been able put his own stamp on the division. Sadly, he pulled out due to injury as well, putting Lawler against Bobby Voelker, only after an injury to Saffiedine’s first replacement Siyar Bahadurzada.
During his UFC career, Ellenberger has only lost to Condit, Kampmann, and now MacDonald. After his most recent defeat, coupled with the immense talent in the welterweight division, the 28-year-old will need to prove why he is a top five fighter, or watch his spot quickly get filled by a hungrier contender. Not to take anything away from him; but to be the best, you need to beat the best, and Ellenberger has yet to do that.