Las Vegas, Nevada - On Wednesday night, live from the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska, and broadcast on FUEL, elite welterweights Diego ‘the Dream’ Sanchez and local puncher Jake ‘the Juggernaut’ Ellenberger throw down in a three-round main event which will reshape the 170lbs division.
After an impressive run at the lightweight title, Sanchez has reestablished himself in the welterweight division with fight of the night wins over Paulo Thiago and Martin Kampmann, while Ellenberger has run through nine of his last 10 opponent, including stoppage wins over Mike Pyle, John Howard and Jake Shields.
Today Ellenberger – born and bred in Omaha and the assistant coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha – was presented with the Key to the City by David Dover, Deputy Chief of Staff to Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle. The former US Marine said: “I’m honored to be recognized by the city I grew up in and fight for. It’s extra pressure to fight in your hometown with all your family and friends in the front row, but I know the support from the local fans will be awesome.”
Presenting the Key to the City, David Dover, Deputy Chief of Staff to Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle said: “On behalf of Mayor Jim Suttle, the City of Omaha is proud to recognize Jake as a hometown hero, as both a former US Marine and an outstanding athlete.”
The main eventers had the following to say at today’s open workouts.
Diego Sanchez, welterweight contender
“You know, this is a big fight with Jake Ellenberger because I believe he is one of the top guys in the division. He has more momentum than a Koscheck or a Hendricks right now, and I think a win over him is going to set me up in a good position in the division and a shot at the title.
“The fact that people aren’t talking about me for a title shot doesn’t bother me. It’s alright. Ellenberger has five wins in the UFC and some impressive ones. It all gets factored in. I have two Fight of the Nights but, for me, to get that title shot I’m really going to have to earn it. So I’m going to have to go in there and beat the guy who everyone says is going to get the title shot. I have to go in and beat him and I have to beat him convincingly and that’s what I came to Omaha to do.
“There’s no added pressure fighting him in his hometown. I used to get involved in mind games, the fight before the fight. The mental and psychological aspects of the head games. When I was younger I used to think that was part of it. If you could beat a fighter before you even got into the ring then that was part of it. But now I’ve realized that once they lock the door it’s just two guys, two men. The decisions that they made in their training camp, the decisions that they made with their life, that’s all that matters and what’s in their hearts.”
Jake Ellenberger, welterweight contender (@ellenbergermma)
“The Jake Shields fight was a great win, but you need to look at it one fight at a time. Sanchez is a completely different type of fight for me. I’ve really put in the work, I have been around the sport a long time and the hard work and travelling the hard road is really paying off. This is a big opportunity for me. I’m looking one fight at a time until I get the title shot. I’m not thinking much past Wednesday, but my goal has always been a world title.
“I was very excited by last week’s Nick Diaz vs Carlos Condit fight. Obviously I have history with Carlos and I would love to get this win back off him. The last one was a split decision and I know I am a little faster and a lot smarter than I was two years ago. I respect him because he didn’t have an easy path to the belt, like me, and to fight him again would be an honor.”
Photo: John Morgan
Ellenberger is presented with Key to City by David Dover, Deputy Chief of Staff to Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.