When he was signed by the UFC two years ago to take a bout on only one month's notice, Jake Ellenberger gave current number one welterweight contender Carlos Condit everything the New Mexican could handle.
Since then, he's been a one-man wrecking crew, finishing all but one of his opponents. Only Brazilian Carlos Eduardo Rocha was able to climb inside the Octagon with Ellenberger and escape with his consciousness intact.
Veteran Mike Pyle was the first victim on "The Juggernaut's" hit list and was followed up with a temporary disfigurement of John Howard. "Doomsday" was undefeated in the Octagon prior to meeting up with Ellenberger who caused a softball-sized hematoma to grow from Howard's forehead.
Rocha and a split decision win came next for the wrestler. It was a fight that has lingered with him, a point made obvious when he compared the Brazilian to his opponent from last night.
Less than three months after his tilt with the Brazilian, Ellenberger stepped inside the Octagon on about two weeks notice at UFC 129. He nearly erased the stench from the lackluster decision win three pay-per-views (PPV) earlier with a brutal two-punch knockout over Sean Pierson.
But it wasn't until last night that "The Juggernaut" proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he belongs in the infamous "mix" for a welterweight title shot. He beat -- no, destroyed -- Jake Shields in a manner that no other fighter has been able to do.
It took Georges St. Pierre 25 minutes and three judges to get the better of Shields while it took Ellenberger only one knee and a handful of punches to leave little doubt who has the better man.
Which is why -- should he get one more solid win under his belt -- "The Juggernaut" should challenge the French-Canadian -- or whoever holds the title -- for welterweight supremacy.
The argument continues after the jump!
There's a reason that Ellenberger is headlining Fight Night cards less than two years into his UFC tenure. The boy can scrap and he's extremely exciting when doing so. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) is a bit lacking -- he's only a blue belt -- but his wrestling is definitely up to snuff.
His striking? Well, ask Pyle and Pierson what they think about Ellenberger's stand up and see what they have to say.
While wrestlers are sometimes unfairly painted with the same brush and generalized as "boring" or at best "methodical," Ellenberger bucks the stereotype and comes out every single fight guns a-blazing. He uses his wrestling to not only dictate the pace of his fights but also to finish them, a novel concept in the welterweight division.
There's almost an unlimited amount of intriguing match-ups for Ellenberger in the UFC's 170-pound division. For years now, the division has been one of the promotion's deepest and most talent-rich. Almost everyone from solid fighters like Martin Kampmann to welterweight royalty like Jon Fitch perks my interest when discussing possible future opponents for "The Juggernaut."
But there's one name, one fighter that makes the most sense.
A fight against Josh Koscheck -- should he defeat Matt Hughes this Saturday (Sept. 17) at UFC 135: "Jones vs. Rampage" -- would be more than enough to warrant a title shot for "The Juggernaut." Koscheck has long been near the top of the 170-pound crowd and is a former title contender himself.
Stylistically, it's a fantastic match-up. "Kos" has the wrestling chops to neutralize Ellenberger and likely would even have the advantage on the mat. As far as the stand-up goes, I know the American Kickboxing Academy product fancies himself a knockout artist but if he hangs out too long on his feet with "The Juggernaut," there's a good chance he will be put to sleep.
Koscheck is the best match-up choice as every other welterweight in the top ten of USA Today/SB Nation's consensus ranking already has a full dance card. Barring an unlikely Hughes victory on Saturday, Ellenberger should get the chance to continue fighting the level of competition that Shields presented.
And don't let the Sunday morning pundits fool you into thinking Shields wasn't that good to begin with. He most definitely is. He has wins over Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, Nick Thompson, Dan Henderson, and Jason Miller across two different weight classes.
Jake Shields is a fantastic fighter.
Jake Ellenberger just happens to be better.
And that is incredibly exciting for the future of the welterweight division.