Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight bruisers Jake Ellenberger and Bryan Barberena will battle this Saturday (Aug. 25, 2018) at UFC Fight Night 135 inside Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.
If we can all be honest for a moment, Ellenberger’s continued presence on UFC’s roster is a major surprise, let alone his slot here on the main card. Since 2013, the once-contender is a putrid 2-8 inside the Octagon and has been stopped in a majority of those defeats. Getting crushed by Ben Saunders in two minutes last time out seemed to be the final nail in the coffin, but somehow “Juggernaut” remains. Barberena, meanwhile, hasn’t yet been able to put together an extended win streak, but he’s proven himself one of Welterweight’s toughest customers and picked up some solid wins. Furthermore, his only recent losses come to current top contenders.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Matt Brown (UFC 201), Nate Marquardt (UFC 158), Jake Shields (UFC Fight Night 25), Mike Pyle (UFC 108)
Key Losses: Robbie Lawler (UFC 173), Rory MacDonald (UFC on FOX 8), Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 180), Mike Perry (UFC Fight Night 108)
Keys to Victory: At his best, Ellenberger was a dangerously explosive athlete with massive power punches. Mostly using his wrestling to keep the fight standing, Ellenberger would blitz forward with sudden flurries and end opponents in an instant.
The man still hits hard, but those flurries are few and bar between nowadays.
Unfortunately, Ellenberger’s been given a very difficult opponent considering his current abilities and recent rough patch. Ellenberger has a limited amount of time before he grows tired and less effective, whereas Barberena’s best attribute is likely durability. Even before considering Barberena’s own offense, that leaves Ellenberger in a tough spot. Realistically, Ellenberger needs to knockout Barberena in the opening five minutes. That will be difficult, but Ellenberger is best served putting all his energy forward at the start and trying to blast Barberena out of the water.
Key Wins: Warlley Alves (UFC 198), Sage Northcutt (UFC on FOX 18), Joe Procter (UFC Fight Night 108)
Key Losses: Colby Covington (UFC on FOX 22), Leon Edwards (UFC Fight Night 115), Chad Laprise (UFC 186)
Keys to Victory: Barberena is tough and well-rounded without any truly defining strength. So far, that’s proven enough to defeat some tough opposition, but the division’s best can contain his brawling and keep him trapped on the mat.
Ellenberger is no longer the division’s best.
As of late, Ellenberger’s biggest problems have been decreased durability and activity. He doesn’t feel confident in attacking opponents, which lets his foes land first and tends to end the fight. Barberena need only take advantage. “Bam Bam” has nine knockout victories on his record and has never been stopped by strikes himself — he can afford to exchange with Ellenberger. Barberena thrives as the aggressor, so getting after Ellenberger and shaking his confidence early will help prevent any kind of rally from the veteran.
Bottom Line: This has to be Ellenberger’s last stand.
“Juggernaut” cannot afford another defeat. I probably said that last time, but it absolutely has to be true this time! A loss here would make it four straight and six of his previous seven — is there anyone in UFC history who survived such a slump? None come to mind. On the plus side, given Ellenberger’s unique job security, an upset win here probably buys him another chance to lose multiple fights.
As for Barberena, he has lost two of his previous three bouts — admittedly to the interim champ and another Top 10-ranked opponent. Either way, that leaves Barberena in need of a win, something that this match up is likely produce. Back in the win column, Barberena can focus on putting some wins and receiving another chance to take out a highly ranked foe.
In truth, it’s not the most relevant fight around, but it should produce some violence.
At UFC Fight Night 135, Jake Ellenberger and Bryan Barberena will duel. Which man will have his hand raised?