UFC Fight Night 25 preview: Jake Shields vs. Jake Ellenberger

Jake Shields (left) returns to the Octagon to face Jake Ellenberger in the UFC Fight Night 25 main event.

On the heels of UFC Rio last month, the Ultimate Fighting Championship brings “UFC Fight Night 25: Shields vs. Ellenberger” to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La., this coming Saturday, Sept. 17.

Following a lackluster performance against Georges St-Pierre in April, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields (26-5-1) returns to the Octagon to take on former NCAA Division II wrestler Jake Ellenberger (25-5) in the main event.

Shields, has had the very unfortunate luck of having to deal with the loss of his father and manager, Jack Shields, right in the midst of his training camp for this fight.

No one could have blamed Shields had he decided to pull out of the fight, but like a true warrior, the 32-year-old American Jiu-Jitsu specialist will still compete — but one has to wonder what sort of effect the loss will have on Shields mentally.

Shields was undefeated for more than six years prior to his loss to St-Pierre. Before defeating Martin Kampmann via split decision in his UFC debut last October, Shields racked up back-to-back unanimous decision victories over Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Dan Henderson.

Shields has said he was a little disappointed in being matched up with Ellenberger because he is not as well known as some of the other guys in the division, but also admitted he can not complain too much because it is the main event.

The 26-year-old Ellenberger is 4-1 inside the UFC Octagon. He is currently hanging out on the cusp of the 170-pound division’s top-10 and a win over Shields will guarantee him a home among the welterweight elite.

Ellenberger actually made his UFC debut on Sept. 16, 2009, almost two years ago to the day of his upcoming bout with Shields on Saturday. Ellenberger lost a close split decision in that debut to current welterweight no. 1 contender Carlos Condit.

Since then, the University of Nebraska at Omaha assistant wrestling coach has reeled off four straight wins, taking out Mike Pyle and John Howard via TKO in 2010, winning a split decision over Carlos Eduardo Rocha in February, and most recently, knocking out Sean Pierson in the first round at UFC 129 back in April.

Oddsmakers currently have Shields the favorite at -140 while Ellenberger sits at +170.

Thoughts for discussion

Will Ellenberger’s wrestling be good enough to nullify Shields’ takedowns? We have seen Shields have problems when he can not get the fight to the ground. The GSP fight is a clear example of that.

It is quite remarkable really how far Shields has come with his still very rudimentary striking and almost everyone he faces, including Ellenberger, is going to have the advantage on the feet.

You have to give the ground and submission advantage to Shields and Ellenberger does have one submission loss on his record, an armbar loss to Delson Heleno in the IFL back in 2007.

Sixteen of Ellenberger’s 25 wins have come via knockout and those heavy hands are going to be the biggest thing Shields needs to worry about. In training for this fight Shields reportedly brought in Chris Leben to mimic Ellenberger’s stand-up.

Stay close to ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) as we will be taking a look at the rest of the main card fights throughout the week. UFC Fight Night 25 airs LIVE on Spike TV this Saturday, Sept. 17, at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. For the full fight card line-up see our Upcoming Events page.

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