Although Jake Ellenberger Still Believes Johny Hendricks “Took The Back Door” Out Of UFC 158 Fight, Welterweight Remains “Focused” On Nate Marquardt
By Kelsey Mowatt
Jake Ellenberger’s road to UFC 158 this Saturday has taken some unexpected turns, and as a result, the established welterweight has been forced to deal with a line of questioning no one anticipated when he signed to fight at the March 16th event. Ellenberger was, of course, originally scheduled to fight Johny Hendricks, until an injury to Rory MacDonald prompted the UFC to match Hendricks up against Carlos Condit.
The move of Hendricks and his camp didn’t sit well with Ellenberger, and the vet wasn’t shy about it. As a result, Hendricks relayed publicly that it had been his management, and not him, who had sought out a bout with Condit, due to the latter’s recent status as interim champ. As a result of the back-and-forth, the fact that Ellenberger (28-6) will now face Nate Marquardt (32-11-2), has been lost somewhat in the pre-fight mix.
“It’s in the past you know?” Ellenberger said on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently, when asked if he’s sick of talking about Hendricks and the fact he will no longer fight the division’s number one contender. “I get a lot more questions about Johny then I do about Nate, but, at the end of the day it’s over. I got a job on March 16th and that’s Nate Marquardt. That’s all I’m focused on.”
While Ellenberger says he’s focused on the task at hand in Marquardt, one could wonder if the pre-fight debate regarding the new match-ups has affected the mindset of Hendricks.
“I doubt it; I don’t think so,” said Ellenberger, when asked if he thinks the recent debate could impact Hendricks’ performance Saturday. “My issue with the whole thing was that we signed a contract, and then he took the back door. People like to make things sound differently, and kind of make a presentation of something different than it actually is. Johny is the number one contender and I’ve never argued that, but I’ve never chosen anybody that I’ve fought in my career, and I don’t think he should either.”
While Condit has demonstrated consistently that he is one of the division’s most tenacious and skilled fighters, some critics–including Ellenberger–have argued that Hendricks matches up better against Condit. Ellenberger has showcased a developed wrestling pedigree during his time in the UFC, which could serve him well in a bout with the former, 4 Time All American wrestler in Hendricks.
“I have the style to beat Johny Hendricks and I don’t have to really get anyone to believe me…I believe in myself,” the 27 year-old Ellenberger furthered. “Is Carlos a better style match-up for him? Probably. Sure. I don’t mean that with any disrespect…I think my words have been construed with what I said about Carlos. He’s a fantastic fighter.”
Of course, what’s been largely lost in all this is that Marquardt agreed to fight Ellenberger, on short notice, following his unanimous decision loss to Tarec Saffiedine in January. The defeat came six months after Marquardt stopped the highly regarded Tyron Woodley to become Strikeforce champ.
“I’ve met Nate on more than one occasion; he’s a really nice guy and we have a lot of mutual friends as well,” noted Ellenberger. “Nate’s back in the UFC and I’m sure he’s stoked about that. But again, it’s business, you fight a lot of people that you could definitely like or be friends with and we can be friends afterwards.”
“He’s a tough fight for anybody,” Ellenberger added about his 33 year-old-opponent, who at one point was the UFC’s number one middleweight contender. “He’s well rounded and I don’t see any big holes in his game.”
UFC 158 will be hosted by Montreal’s Bell Centre and will feature welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre versus Nick Diaz in the main event.