Two extremely gutsy gladiators battled last night (March 16, 2013) as Jake Ellenberger took on former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nate Marquardt on the UFC 158 main card in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Marquardt entered the fight on short notice and on a quick turnaround after dropping his title in a one-sided affair to Tarec Saffiedine this past January in the final fight in Strikeforce history.
He was looking to make people forget about his last performance and get back to his winning ways against an even higher ranked opponent.
That didn't happen.
While Ellenberger had control of the cage center, Marquardt landed the opening salvo, throwing several leg kicks from the outside, perhaps learning a lesson from his last bout.
After slightly catching "The Juggernaut" off balance with a right hand, Marquardt pressed forward with a flurry but he wasn't able to connect with anything clean and Ellenberger quickly composed himself.
That's when Ellenberger started to take over.
It began with a short combination where a left hook landed flush to catch Marquardt's attention, then it was a punishing uppercut followed by a left hook after a takedown attempt which opened up a small cut.
After Marquardt responded with a few more leg kicks, Ellenberger simply stepped inside during a kick attempt and cracked him with a left and right hand which sent him to the ground. With Marquardt in dire straits, it took four right hands on the ground and "The Great" faceplanted. That was all the referee needed to see to put a halt to the contest.
For Nate Marquardt, the leg kicks were actually a great gameplan, something he learned from his last loss, but his decision to throw a leg kick with his back against the fence was very, very ill-advised. Ellenberger was already close enough to lunge in and hurt him and he stepped forward through the kick and crushed him. Again, the strategy was solid, but the execution needed a bit of work. I'm sure those kicks would have paid dividends if the fight had gone past the midway point of the second round, but he wasn't able to get it there.
For Jake Ellenberger, he fought extremely composed, especially considering this was only a three minute bout. He hung in there against Marquardt's leg kicks, worked to time them and threw his powerful strikes with technique instead of just winging them recklessly like he has done in the past and like Marquardt had mentioned in the countdown video. When he had "The Great" backed into the cage, he ignored his kick and just welt hulk mode on him, putting him down with a combination and refusing to let him recover with some heavy ground and pound on the dazed former Strikeforce champ. This was Ellenberger's best performance of his career.
There are a ton of options available for "The Juggernaut." Demian Maia would be intriguing, as would bouts against the likes of Tarec Saffiedine, Rory MacDonald (depending on how long he's out), Robbie Lawler or even Mike Pierce.