Jake Ellenberger had been fighting for nearly five years when he finally got the call from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). It's the moment every single person who straps on four ounce gloves hopes to one day see.
However, it wasn't under the most ideal of circumstances. The fight promotion was in a pinch and needed the Omaha native to replace Chris Lytle who was set to take on Carlos Condit but bowed out due to injury. "The Juggernaut" had only a little over a month to prepare for the former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Welterweight Champion.
Regardless, when opportunity came knocking on Ellenberger's door, he wasn't going to let the chance to fight for the UFC pass him.
"The Juggernaut" fell short against the now-interim welterweight champ but fought well enough to earn one of the judge's decisions. Beyond that, Ellenberger impressed countless fans who had never even heard of him before that night in Oklahoma City.
But kudos don't pay the bills. A victory inside the Octagon is something else altogether and necessary for any fighter not looking to find a place in an unemployment line.
Ellenberger finally got that win a few months later when he took on veteran Mike Pyle during a preliminary bout at UFC 108. He steps inside the Octagon this Friday (June 1) in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale and he'll be facing off against fellow 170-pound title contender Martin Kampmann.
Before he does, we'll take a look at his bout against Pyle, an impressive victory for "The Juggernaut."
The Omaha native begins the fight by immediately pressuring Pyle in the stand up exchanges. Not content to throw single punches, Ellenberger strings together combinations which eventually lead to a takedown. Now on top of his opponent, "The Juggernaut" goes to work.
Using his stifling wrestling acumen, Ellenberger is able to keep Pyle on his back but the decade-plus veteran keeps his opponent from landing any kind of significant offense. In addition to keeping Ellenberger on his heels through excellent defensive grappling, "Quicksand" also manages to sneak in a couple of loose submission attempts. None stick or really threaten but Ellenberger must be careful to avoid getting choked out by the wily veteran.
With 90 seconds remaining in the opening round, Pyle is able to kick his opponent off who rises back to his feet. The referee affords "Quicksand" the chance to get back up and both fighters are once again vertical.
The change in position doesn't last long as Ellenberger barrels through with a textbook takedown. But once again, Pyle immediately begins working towards a submission, locking his opponent's arm in a kimura. Attempting to crank Ellenberger's arm back, Pyle threatens to end the fight in the first round but "The Juggernaut" defends perfectly and ends up in half-guard.
As the seconds tick down to zero, Ellenberger unloads an explosion of ground and pound. Like a wrecking ball attached to the end of his arm, his fist crashes against Pyle's head and body, forcing the Xtreme Couture fighter to spend a few moments on the canvas following the end of the round.
Perhaps he wasn't fully recovered from the barrage as he exited his corner a minute later to begin the second stanza. It's possible as it only took Ellenberger another 22 seconds to end the fight.
A low kick from Pyle earns him a counter left straight and an ensuing takedown attempt is stuffed easily by Ellenberger. As they're clinched up, "The Juggernaut" nails his opponent with a knee to the body and when Pyle raises his head, he eats a beautiful 1-2 combination. The first doesn't connect flush but the second drops "Quicksand" like a ton of bricks.
From there, "The Juggernaut" lives up to his moniker as he unloads an absolute blitzkrieg of ground and pound. The scent of blood was there inside the Octagon and Ellenberger seemed more great white shark than man. The referee allowed Pyle a few seconds to recover but when someone with the power the Omaha native has is raining down punches on you, recovery isn't likely and probably downright impossible.
Ellenberger hopes to have Kampmann in a similar position this weekend and earn himself a title shot and rematch against Condit. He hasn't lost since his bout against "The Natural Born Killer" and is riding a six-fight win streak, including victories over Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez, two fighters who came out on top when facing "The Hitman."
Will we see another "Juggernaut" knockout?