Ellenberger entered the fight talking trash, but he did little, if anything to back it up in a bout that was very poorly received by the fans in attendance.
The tone of the fight was set very quickly as MacDonald entered a stance where his jab shoulder was closer to Ellenberger and he immediately flashed the jab a few times to find his distance and keep "The Juggernaut" at bay.
Ellenberger seemed incredibly flustered by MacDonald's gameplan, which kept the jab popping and disengaged every time the Reign MMA fighter tried to close the distance. MacDonald only had a three inch reach advantage, but due to his semi-sideways stance and the constant use of jab paired with Ellenberger's reliance on heavy hooks, the reach was much more pronounced.
MacDonald kept up with the jabs and started to throw some kicks as well once he settled in. The front kick in particular was effective in keeping the Nebraska native at bay just like the jab. Time and time again Ellenberger would occasionally look for a counter left hook, but because he was spending so much of the fight on the outside, it was far too telegraphed whenever he tried to close the distance and land it.
At the end of the third round, Ellenberger finally scored a desperation takedown, but with one minute to go in the fight, he had no sense of urgency with his ground work and it seemed none of that training with Mark Munoz offered any osmosis in regards to ground and pound skills as he just sat inside MacDonald's guard until the bell rang.
Despite the inactivity and the overall tepidness of the bout, it was a no-brainer when MacDonald walked away with a unanimous decision.
For Jake Ellenberger, the fact that this fight was pretty awful is almost entirely his fault. It's not like MacDonald's jab was a new weapon he couldn't prepare for. MacDonald pretty much did the same thing against B.J. Penn, although he was more aggressive once "The Prodigy" became a human punching bag. Ellenberger's inability to get inside, hesitancy to engage and his conservative style last night were the primary reason the fight was awful. He had no business standing that far on the outside just getting peppered with jabs. He wasn't going to hit MacDonald from that range and this was a situation where an athlete with power stepped into the cage against someone with an actual technical understanding of striking.
Perhaps the most damning was Ellenberger's complete lack of urgency. Sure, maybe he wanted to pace himself due to conditioning issues in the past, but where was the explosion? He had to know he wasn't winning the fight but he never went for it. Even when he got the takedown at the end of the third round, all he did with it was hold onto MacDonald. He never even came close to even threatening a finish to the bout.
For Rory MacDonald, sure he was able to jab Ellenberger from distance, but I would have liked to see a little bit more. Yes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but he didn't win anyone over last night by playing it so safe. I can understand being wary of Ellenberger's power, i completely get it, but at some point, you can follow up your jab with a right hand or throw some more kicks in your opponent's direction. Hell, he could have at least started throwing the jab more. Instead, he was content to whittle away at his opponent.
No one is going to be clamoring for a title shot after a win like that.
Next up for MacDonald could be a wide variety of opponents but the most likely outcome is the winner of the Martin Kampmann vs. Carlos Condit rematch from next month. He's already publicly expressed interest in avenging the Condit loss and perhaps that's the type of opponent that will get MacDonald to take a few risks.