Jake Ellenberger Still Fuming About Loss to Martin Kampmann: “Now I Get to Fight His Teammate and Unfortunately for Jay Hieron He’s Got to Fight Me.”
By Kelsey Mowatt
It’s been an interesting few weeks for Jake Ellenberger, as not only has the welterweight been forced to deal with an opponent change, but his September 1st fight was bumped back by nearly a month. Of course, originally, Ellenberger was set to fight Josh Koscheck at the doomed UFC 151 card, but the vet was forced to withdraw with a back injury. Although some might argue that Koscheck’s replacement, Jay Hieron, is not as big of a name with mainstream fans, Ellenberger is more interested with getting back on track.
“I didn’t really pay much attention to it,” said Ellenberger, when asked for his reaction upon finding out he would welcome the accomplished vet Hieron back to the Octagon. “For me, I’m just focusing on myself and what I’m good at, what my strengths are. For me, different opponent, same outcome. I’m not focused on the name.”
Ellenberger is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Martin Kampmann in June, which ended a six fight win streak that included wins over established names like Diego Sanchez, Jake Shields and Mike Pyle. As a result of his victory over Ellenberger, Kampmann will now fight Johny Hendricks on November 17th, in what likely will determine the division’s number one contender.
“Koscheck’s definitely a little bit more well known but at the end of the day there’s no easy fights in the UFC,” Ellenberger (27-6) added about Hieron (23-5), who he will now meet October 5th at UFC on FX 5 in Minneapolis. “Like I said, I just have to go in there and do my job, and more than anything, make a statement. I can’t choose who I fight and I’m not worried about who it is.”
Of course, after Hieron exited from the UFC in 2005, he went on to establish himself as one of the sport’s top welterweights not under contract with the promotion. The 36 year-old will make his return having gone an impressive 15-3 since he last competed in the Octagon.
“I don’t think he’s really great anywhere,” said Ellenberger, when asked to assess his next opponent. “I think he’s probably good everywhere, but I don’t think he really stands out. Everywhere he’s good I feel I’m better and I’m going in there to finish him, make a statement like I said.”
“I really try not to think about what he’s good at,” added Ellenberger. “I know he’s athletic, and he does know how to wrestle, but at the same time, he has to go in there and fight me. He’s got more to worry about than I do. That’s the way I feel about it.”
While in MMA terms, it may seem like a lifetime ago, Hieron and Ellenberger have fought once before. In June, 2006, Hieron worked his way to a unanimous decision win over Ellenberger, when the two competed for the now defunct International Fight League.
“Defnitely, anytime you rematch somebody, whether you fought a long time ago, it’s interesting,” said Ellenberger. “We fought six years ago and I think I’ve grown a lot as a fighter. Really, I think I’m a lot more comfortable in my striking, and I’m just focused on what I need to do to win this fight, but it makes the match-up more intriguing.”
When Ellenberger steps into the cage next month to fight Hieron, over four months will have expired since his loss to Kampmann, which set his title shot aspirations back a fight or two.
“I’m really disappointed in myself,” said Ellenberger. “First off, my weight management; my weight cut was too much. There was a lot of things I did wrong that fight. I don’t feel like Martin Kampmann beat me, I beat myself and it showed that night. I made a few mistakes in training before I even got into the cage and it was too late once I got in there…it really pisses me off and now I get to fight his teammate and unfortunately for Jay he’s got to fight me.”