The main event of the UFC on FUEL TV 1 fight card that took place tonight (Wed., Feb. 15, 2012) at the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska, featured Diego Sanchez returning to take on hometown boy Jake Ellenberger.
How important was this fight? Well, before the broadcast hit the air, UFC President Dana White told SB Nation's Ariel Helwani that it's entirely possible the winner would earn a title shot in the event Carlos Condit decides not to wait and Georges St. Pierre's recovery takes longer than expected.
This was kind of a big deal.
That's why it's so huge that Ellenberger managed to pick up such a hard fought victory after three rounds and 15 long minutes of action. "The Juggernaut" dominated the first two frames and survived a late surge from Sanchez to take a decision on scores of 29-28 across the board.
Was he good enough for UFC to want to book Carlos Condit vs. Jake Ellenberger part deux? We shall see.
As expected, the staredown was intense. Thankfully, it carried over to the fight, at least at the start. Ellenberger wanted to please his native fans with a big knockout early, throwing a haymaker in an attempt to get the party started sooner than we all thought.
Swing and a miss.
Somewhat surprisingly, Sanchez was tempered in his attack, far more patient than we're used to seeing him. It's not that he was tentative or even weary of Ellenberger's power. He simply stayed cool under the pressure of the moment.
Even when he rushed in and got caught with a big counter shot that put him on his ass. Thanks to that, Ellenberger definitely had round one on the scorecards.
It wasn't long into the second round when Sanchez's frustration started showing. His calm demeanor slowly started to fade in favor of a less-than focused scowl and pushing punches. His attacks became predictable and Ellenberger was reacting to them perfectly.
To mix it up nicely, "The Juggernaut" threw in a takedown late in the round, timed impeccably to shoot underneath a charging Sanchez. He also punished Diego with monster elbows that furthered the damage to "The Dream's" nose, which was already busted up big time at this point.
The stats? 23 ground strikes from Ellenberger, one from Sanchez.
They battled back and forth into the third, Sanchez slowly making his way back into the fight. He landed enough to open a cut on Ellenberger and even reversed a takedown into back mount where he ended the fight by unloading a ton of punches.
Ellenberger fought back to his feet and the bell sounded with the two men throwing wild haymakers.
Sanchez fought valiantly until the very end but because of his dominance in the first two rounds, Ellenberger came away with a victory that could catapult him to a welterweight title shot.
In the meantime, check out MMAmania.com's complete coverage of the UFC on FUEL TV 1 action by clicking here.