Jake Ellenberger did not call out Carlos Condit following his hard-fought decision victory over Diego Sanchez on Wednesday night, but he didn’t shy away from the potential matchup either.
“If it were up to me, [my next fight] would be Carlos,” Ellenberger told Fox Sports following his victory at UFC on Fuel TV 1 at the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Neb. “Obviously I would love to get a rematch with Condit. That’s my goal right now, to win the world title. But I’ve got some things to work on, so we’ll see where it goes from here.”
Despite the critique on his own performance, Ellenberger showcased a measured, accurate standup attack mixed with unpredictable takedown attempts through the first two frames, flooring Sanchez with a counter punch combination in the first round and winning the first 10 minutes of action on all three scorecards.
However, the resilient Jackson’s MMA representative responded in typical fashion, roaring back late in the third round to take Ellenberger’s back. Though he threatened to finish the fight with both ground-and-pound and a rear-naked choke, Sanchez was unable to force a stoppage.
“Diego is an extremely hard guy to train for and to fight,” said Ellenberger. “He moves fast, and I knew that I couldn’t back up. I had to always be prepared to stand [with him].”
An Omaha native, Ellenberger was the decided crowd favorite from the get-go. While most would expect a home field advantage to yield only positives, “The Juggernaut” revealed the inherent challenges in the situation.
“It was electric in here tonight and much more overwhelming than I had anticipated. It was hard to stay focused and keep my strategy when the place was going nuts, but I had to tune it out,” he said. “That’s a constant struggle. Keeping your composure is a really hard thing to do as a professional fighter.”
While newly crowned interim champ Condit is expected to wait for Georges St. Pierre to fully recover from knee surgery in order to unify the welterweight titles, the prospect of an Ellenberger-Condit rematch is still an intriguing one. The pair initially met at UFC Fight Night 19 in 2009, with Condit earning a contentious split decision victory over the Nebraskan. Ellenberger has not lost since, posting six consecutive Octagon victories.
If and when the two meet again, “The Juggernaut” believes he will show the greatest improvement in his standup due to his work with revered former Chute Boxe and current Kings MMA coach Rafael Cordeiro.
“[The biggest difference] is in controlling the range and my distance,” said Ellenberger. “My muay Thai coach, master Rafael Cordeiro, is an amazing coach. We work a lot on foot speed and always being offensive. I keep learning each fight. [I need to improve on] some small things, some positions. I made some mistakes tonight, but luckily, I can go back to work and refocus.”