Welterweights Carolos Rocha and Jake Ellenberger will face each other at UFC 126.

We are going to keep this train rolling with previews of the main card for “UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort” which takes place this Saturday, Feb. 5.  You can read yesterday’s preview of the Torres vs. Banuelos right here: “Miguel Torres looks to make a splash in UFC debut against Antonio Banuelos“.

This fight between Jake Ellenberger and Carlos Rocha wasn’t originally planned, as Ellenberger was supposed to fight a top three welterweight Jon Fitch.  However, Fitch was pulled from the fight to face BJ Penn in the main event of the upcoming UFC 127 later this month.

Let’s get right to it.

Carlos Rocha comes into this fight with a perfect 9-0 record with eight of those wins coming via submission.  Rocha has fought exclusively in Germany making his UFC debut in his last fight at UFC 122 against TUF 11 finalist Kris McCray, winning by knee-bar in the first round.

I haven’t seen much footage on Rocha other than the McCray fight, but I think it’s safe to say that he’s primarily a submission guy at this point.

Jake Ellenberger comes into this fight with a 23-5 record with 15 wins via KO/TKO and five submissions.  This equates to a gaudy 87% finishing percentage against his opponents in his wins.

Ellenberger burst on the UFC scene by taking a fight against MMA veteran Carlos Condit on two weeks notice.  Ellenberger had Condit in big trouble until his conditioning failed him in the later rounds.

However, that performance let fans know he was for real.  Ellenberger was last in action dispatching John Howard via TKO back in August 2010.  Ellenberger brings an aggressive style, brute strength, KO power and solid wrestling into this fight.

I must mention that this is a potential lose-lose fight for Ellenberger.  He went from fighting a top three welterweight in Fitch, to a guy that almost nobody has heard of in Rocha.

Could the change in opponent have an effect on Ellenberger?  It’s possible, but I interviewed Ellenberger last year and he doesn’t come off as someone that would take anyone lightly.

Keys To Victory

At LinesMaker (www.linesmaker.com) Ellenberger is the (-300) betting favorite.  Rocha must get this fight to the ground at all cost, even if he has to pull guard.

While Rocha looks impressive physically, I doubt he has the strength to muscle Ellenberger around the cage.  So he must take advantage of any scramble opportunities in which he can gain the advantage.

Ellenberger needs to use his wrestling ability to keep the fight standing while trying to land those heavy hands of his.  This is almost a classic grappler vs. striker match (although Ellenberger comes from a wrestling base).

How Does It End?

Rocha is a black belt in jiu-jitsu while Ellenberger is a blue belt.  Ellenberger has only been submitted once in his career back in 2007 via arm-bar.

If Ellenberger maintains top position on the ground, I think he’ll be able to avoid being submitted unless he’s caught during a transition.

Ultimately I think Ellenberger’s wrestling and power will be too much for Rocha, but it’s possible that Rocha is able to apply his submission game to keep his perfect record intact.

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