Last night (Feb. 15, 2012) in American's heartland, Diego Sanchez and Jake Ellenberger stepped inside the Octagon for the main event of the first-ever UFC on Fuel TV main event. Each knew a loss would stall their career for at the very least a year, while a loss meant they were no longer in the ambiguous zone Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White calls "in the mix." A loss meant they would likely go back to the undercard for at least one fight before getting the chance to headline again.
But a win?
A win would mean everything. Both fighters were coming off huge victories -- an incredible showing of heart on Sanchez's part against Martin Kampmann and a brutal knockout over perennial top five welterweight Jake Shields for Ellenberger -- and while each kept one eye on their UFC on Fuel TV opponent, the other gazed into a future that included a title shot.
With Georges St. Pierre nursing a knee injury and on the shelf until late 2012, most title shot chatter revolved around newly crowned interim champion Carlos Condit, a man who both headliners have ample history with. "The Dream" was born and raised in the same city and is a longtime training partner of "The Natural Born Killer." Ellenberger made his Octagon debut against Condit as a late replacement, filling in for an injured Chris Lytle and nearly handed the Greg Jackson-trained fighter his second straight loss that night in Oklahoma City.
Both knew a showdown with Condit would be a possibility if their hand was raised in Omaha, Neb., last night. And when it was "The Juggernaut's" name called after three rounds of action, he didn't call out the interim champ, but he didn't exactly shrug off the suggestion of a rematch.
The time is now, UFC: give us Carlos Condit vs. Jake Ellenberger 2 for the interim welterweight title.
Ellenberger has stepped inside the Octagon seven times and has won six. Tonight he beat a longtime contender in Sanchez and last September "The Juggernaut" did in less than a minute what "Rush" couldn't do in 25: finish Jake Shields.
The only time the Omaha native has tasted defeated was in his UFC debut against Condit. In that fight, the New Mexico native survived an early scare but managed to come back in the second and third rounds to take the decision. In losing, Ellenberger impressed almost as much as he would have had he pulled out the win.
Over two years later, "The Juggernaut" is sitting on a six fight win streak while Condit is sitting at home with 12 pounds of gold. The only other man it would make sense for "The Natural Born Killer" to step inside the Octagon with is injured and unavailable for another 10 months so why not book a rematch between the two fighters?
The post-fight coverage on Fuel mainly centered around the prospect with just about every commentator voicing their approval of a rematch. Analysts Jay Glazer and Ariel Helwani along with middleweight fighter Brian Stann all said in unison: book the fight.
Each pay-per-view (PPV) event up to UFC 148 has a main event. Next week Frankie Edgar takes on Ben Henderson in Japan while UFC 145 invades Atlanta with a headliner of Jon Jones taking on Rashad Evans. The next event will likely be Junior Dos Santos defending his heavyweight title against Alistair Overeem which is rumored to be followed by another card in Brazil with the Anderson Silva/Chael Sonnen rematch topping the bill. The annual Fourth of July card will be headlined by The Ultimate Fighter on FX coaches Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber which leaves an August PPV prime and ready to be headlined by an interim welterweight title bout.
This isn't merely a suggestion or playing the part of Joe Silva, the UFC matchmaker. This is a plea. The UFC must book this fight in August and allow the winner to take on St. Pierre in December four months later. The timing is almost too perfect; it's as if the mixed martial arts (MMA) goods are willing this plan forward.
Condit is too good of a fighter to sit on the sidelines for 10 months. This rematch is too good not to happen.
Pull the trigger, UFC.