Jake Ellenberger took one step closer to a shot at the welterweight title, holding off a late rally from a gritty and determined Diego Sanchez on his way to a hard-earned unanimous decision victory.
As thunderous applause for Ellenberger erupted from the crowd, both fighters landed to start the bout. Ellenberger then began to score with multiple punch combinations as Sanchez stalked him. Sanchez changed levels as he leaned in to close the distance and paid for it as Ellenberger fired a flush knee up the middle. Sanchez shook off the knee but got caught with a perfectly timed counter-right hand from Ellenberger as he waded in range throwing wildly. The right hand dropped Sanchez and put an exclamation mark on the round for Jake Ellenberger.
Ellenberger took the center of the cage to start the second and got the better of the early exchanges. Sanchez again tried to press the action, but a looping right hand gave Ellenberger the time he needed to dip in and power through a double-leg takedown. Once there, Ellenberger peppered Sanchez with elbows to finish off another strong round.
A bloody Sanchez came out swinging in the final frame, but again is was Ellenberger that landed the more significant strikes. Ellenberger then executed a very nice kick-punch combo that wobbled Sanchez. The resilient Sanchez kept coming forward and scored with a pair of left hands that backed up Ellenberger. After getting back to his feet following a takedown, Sanchez took advantage of a slip to take the back of Ellenberger. From there he rained down a flurry of left hands as Ellenberger covered up. With time running out, “The Dream” let his hands go but could not finish as time ran out on the bout.
With scores of 29-28 on all cards, Ellenberger improves to 6-1 in the UFC (27-5 MMA) with the unanimous decision victory.
“Diego’s the toughest guy I’ve ever fought, and he’s a true warrior,” Ellenberger said. “He’s in it every minute of the fight. … It was an honor to fight him.”