Two welterweights with a major score to settle will rematch each other this Friday night (Oct. 5, 2012) as Jake Ellenberger takes on Jay Hieron in the co-main event of UFC on FX 5 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Record: 27-5 overall, 6-2 in the UFC
How he got here: Jake Ellenberger won his first 11 fights all by stoppage while fighting primarily in Midwest promotions near his Nebraska home before earning an opportunity to fight in the IFL. He had a rude awakening in his promotional debut, losing a decision to Jay Hieron and he never quite got on track in the promotion, going 2-2 while also mixing in multiple fights with other leagues during his downtime to gain experience.
A solid four fight win streak while fighting for M-1 and Bellator earned "The Juggernaut" a trip to the UFC where again, he'd have a tough first fight against current UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit. Ellenberger blasted Condit early with some serious power but "The Natural Born Killer" bounced back to take an extremely close split decision in one of 2009's best fights.
Since that loss, Ellenberger has won five straight which includes four stoppage victories due to strikes. The Reign Training Center fighter smashed Sean Pierson at UFC 127 and then followed it up with by far the biggest victory of his career, a 53 second drubbing of former title challenger Jake Shields, stopping him for the first time in over 10 years.
"The Juggernaut" followed up his incredible knockout with a main event victory over Diego Sanchez, dominating the first two rounds before fading late in the third.
His streak was brought to an emphatic end in his last bout, a second round knockout defeat at the hands of Martin Kampmann. He'll be hoping to get back on track by avenging an old defeat this Friday night.
How he gets it done: Jake Ellenberger needs to hurt Jay Hieron badly in the stand-up during the early portion of this fight. That's when he's most dangerous and it also happens to be when his Xtreme Couture foe is usually most vulnerable. The Nebraska native has some of the heaviest hands of any welterweight in the world and he'll definitely need to land them hard if he wants to get the win.
If Ellenberger hurts him, he has to follow up. Hieron has been rocked before, but he always seems to get his wits about him and use his wrestling to clear the cobwebs and get back in the fight.
Constant forward pressure is very important for Ellenberger and he's going to have to turn up the aggression if he wants to force Hieron to make a mistake.
Record: 23-5 overall, 0-2 in the UFC
How he got here: Jay Hieron was a very successful collegiate wrestler, winning the national title for junior college in 1997. After falling in with the wrong crowd, he found a saving grace in mixed martial arts. Despite still being raw, he made his UFC debut in just his fifth professional fight. Unfortunately that debut was against Georges St. Pierre and Hieron was stopped inside two minutes.
He worked his way back to another UFC fight, but a cut put a stop to his UFC career. Instead of giving up, Hieron pushed forward with a career in the IFL and he steadily improved, eventually working his way up to a title shot where he won the title where he won the championship against Delson Heleno and defended the belt Mark Miller.
After the IFL, Hieron bounced around from promotion to promotion with Affliction and Strikeforce before finding a home in Bellator. Despite some controversial decisions that went in his favor, Hieron was able to win the Bellator season four welterweight tournament. In his title shot, he lost a hard-fought decision to Ben Askren and when he wasn't granted an immediate rematch like he wanted, he instead asked for and was granted his Bellator release.
After winning a fight in Legacy Fighting Championships, Hieron stepped up in place of the injured Josh Koscheck to take on Ellenberger in a rematch over six years in the making.
How he gets it done: Hieron has been a bit of a slow starter at times and he can't afford to do that in this fight as Ellenberger has become a ferocious first round finisher in the most recent stretch of his career.
Hieron needs to keep his distance, stay on his bicycle and ride out the first round if need be while avoiding the big power shots from Ellenberger. As Ellenberger slows down in the second round, that's when Hieron needs to pounce with his wrestling.
Ellenberger has been taken down in past fights when he slowed down and that's definitely something Hieron should focus on. If he can dump "The Juggernaut" on his back, he'll be in good shape at repeating history.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight has to be how Jay Hieron reacts to returning to the Octagon. He didn't exactly have the best experience his last time around and people have been talking about him returning to the UFC for many years now. Well, it finally happened but will Hieron be intimidated? He's going to be featured prominently and if the bright lights get to him, he could be in some serious trouble.
Bottom Line: In all honesty, the only way this fight is likely going to be really exciting is if Ellenberger wins. He's got massive power in his fists and he's got a pretty good chance of catching Hieron and avenging that 2006 loss in devastating fashion. If Hieron is able to pull off the 'W,' it'll be because he is able to grind out a victory with his wrestling or was able to effectively counterstrike while on his bicycle. It's not likely that "The Thoroughbred" is going to be able to pull off a stoppage here. This fight could be hit or miss.
Who will come out on top at UFC on FX 5? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!