Jake Ellenberger (28-6, 7-2 UFC) vs. Nate Marquardt (32-11-2, 10-4 UFC)
Jake Ellenberger was originally slated to take on Johny Hendricks in this bout but Hendricks was moved to a fight with Carlos Condit, and Nate Marquardt steps in and makes his return to the UFC. Ellenberger last fought in October, scoring a decision win over Jay Hieron at UFC On FX 5. Ellenberger is 4-1 over his last five fights. Marquardt recently lost the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship to Tarec Saffiedine in the last-ever Strikeforce fight in January. Marquardt is 3-2 over his last five fights.
Fight Breakdown- Marquardt is taking the fight on slightly less than one month’s notice so Ellenberger already has the advantage of a full training camp. Marquardt is also coming off a fight just two months ago where his leg was kicked to oblivion by Saffiedine. Marquardt survived the 25 minutes, and Anderson Silva remains the only fighter to ever finish Marquardt with strikes, so Ellenberger will need to be patient with his striking. Ellenberger showed good patience in his win over Hieron, mixing in his wrestling with some solid striking. More importantly, he showed improved conditioning, something that had been lacking in recent outings.
Marquardt and Ellenberger have similar approaches to fights as both have good wrestling and solid striking with knockout power. Ellenberger has better one-strike finishing abilities, but Marquardt is a solid finisher with combinations, and he is a diverse striker and much more technical. His defense on the feet can show some struggles at time, and Ellenberger is a solid counterpuncher. Ellenberger likes to utilize the jab to control the distance, where he looks for takedown attempts and the occasional left hand to end fights.
Ellenberger will be looking to score the takedowns and work some ground and pound from the top, and while Marquardt has good wrestling, he can be taken down and controlled on the ground. Marquardt does have an active guard so Ellenberger will need to establish solid positioning if he finds himself on top. If Marquardt finds himself on his back and he can create space to force scrambles to the feet, it will give him the confidence needed to try and finish the fight on the feet. This will be a tactical fight, and one that likely lasts the full 15 minutes, so every strike and takedown will be crucial.
Why It Matters- Ellenberger was potentially one or two fights away from a title shot after racking up a six-fight win streak before it was stopped by Martin Kampmann. While two straight wins is not as impressive as six, Ellenberger can get himself right back in the title mix with a win over a former Strikeforce Champion. A loss would send him back down the ladder which can be very tough to climb in the welterweight division.
Marquardt was thought to be done in the UFC following a situation in 2010 where Marquardt was pulled from a fight against Rick Story the day before UFC On Versus 4. Marquardt gets a second chance to make a solid impression in the UFC, this time at 170 pounds. Marquardt looked impressive in winning the Strikeforce Welterweight Championship, but looked just as unimpressive in losing it. Marquardt wants to taste UFC gold, and a win over Ellenberger would start his climb up the rankings.