Esther Lin for MMA Fighting
Don't count Jake Ellenberger among the group of UFC welterweights who didn't want to take a fight against the heavy-handed Johny Hendricks. "The Juggernaught" not only wanted the bout against "Bigg Rigg," he was asked for it.
If Georges St. Pierre, as well as the rest of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweights didn't want to throw down against hard-hitting Johny Hendricks, there is one man who not only wanted the "super tough fight," he was asking for it.
"The Juggernaught," who will face Hendricks at UFC 158 on March 16, 2013, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, say's there is no sense in wasting time in a mixed martial arts (MMA) fight career by running away from the tough fights, which is the reason he jumped at the chance to take on Hendricks, who is widely considered to be the second best 170-pound fighter in the world behind the UFC welterweight champion.
Despite Hendricks having such a distinction and winning five in a row, "Bigg Rigg" didn't get his much-desired and well-deserved title fight against "Rush." Instead, UFC matchmakers opted to book a bout between St. Pierre and Nick Diaz, which will headline the aforementioned UFC 158 event.
Not one to sit idle, Hendricks "reluctantly" decided to take another fight in interim against the always dangerous Ellenberger. And for that, Ellenberger respects the former NCAA Division-1 wrestling champion for accepting a fight in which he doesn't have much to gain, but certainly plenty to lose.
Ellenberger explains via MMA Weekly:
"He could've easily said, 'No way, I'm not going to do it.' But, I don't think he likes to sit out for a year as well as myself. But, props to him for stepping up and taking the fight where there's alot to lose and not much to gain for him. I give more respect to him for taking the fight."
Indeed, with all due respect, of course, taking the bout against Ellenberger -- who got back on the winning track when he defeated Jay Hieron in his previous outing at UFC on FX 5: "Browne vs. Bigfoot" -- is a lose-lose situation for Hendricks.
A loss to the former International Fight League (IFL) veteran could erase all the hard work Hendricks had to put in to earning his number one contender status. While a win over the former Nebraska Cornhusker, and Hendricks simply stays right where he currently is, but with another important payday.
A win for Ellenberger, on the other hand, and he's on the fast track to a title shot, which is one of the reasons he asked for the bout against Hendricks when no one else wanted it:
"There's not other guys in the division that would want this fight and I was asking for it. We're similar styles, you know what I mean? And, nobody wants this super tough fight I think, but, there's no point in wasting your time. If you want the best in the world, and if he is that guy, that's who I want to fight. He's beaten the best guys in the division. He's in this division for a reason. There's definitely not a faster way to get to that title fight than to fight the top three or four guys in the division and you can't argue he is top three."
No one can argue you have to give it up to both men for stepping up and signing the fight agreements, but did Hendricks make a mistake by signing on the dotted line? Should he have just waited out to take on the winner of St. Pierre and Diaz to preserve his title shot?
The unpopular strategy seemed to work for Carlos Condit ... sorta.