Jake Ellenberger took all he could handle from tenacious veteran Diego Sanchez but ended up earning a unanimous decision in front of his hometown crowd in the main event of the first-ever UFC on FUEL TV event in Ellenberger's hometown of Omaha, Nebraska on Wednesday night.
The fight capped off an action-packed card at what looked to be a sold-out Omaha Civic Auditorium. The partisan crowd saw Ellenberger take one step closer to a UFC welterweight title shot with his six straight win in the division.
Ellenberger, who currently trains alongside Mark Munoz at Reign MMA, controlled the fight early on, frustrated Sanchez with good footwork and a steady diet of jabs and strong right hands. An always game Sanchez remained in the pocket and tried to keep up with his foe, landing occasional shots.
The second round saw Ellenberger take a clear lead on the scorecards with a timely takedown towards the end of the stanza. Momentum had started to shift in Sanchez's favor as "The Dream" landed a pair of overhand rights that surprised Ellenberger during the round.
Ellenberger continued to get the better of the exchanges on the feet until a sharp jab from Sanchez busted Ellenberger open. Sanchez began to land on his opponent and a failed takedown attempt saw Sanchez pounce on Ellenberger and seize his back. From there, Sanchez pounded away with punches and mixed in a few rear-naked choke attempts before Ellenberger escaped back to his feet to engage in a fight-ending flurry.
“Diego was the toughest guy I’ve fought," Ellenberger said after the fight. "No matter what happens, he’s in there until the end. It’s an honor to fight him. That was a tough position, and I was tired but I just tried to fight through it. You have to stay in there mentally. He’s a warrior.”
Struve TKO's Herman in 2nd
In the night's co-main event, Stefan Struve overcame a slow start to eventually score a second-round stoppage of Dave Herman in a heavyweight bout pitting together two of the division's brightest young up-and-comers.
Herman was able to find his range early and picked Struve apart with punches from the outside, battering the 6'11 Dutchman with numerous leg kicks as well. Struve became more aggressive at the start of the second round and slowly started to land shots on Herman.
Struve flattened Herman with an uppercut three minutes into the round and dove onto Herman to capitalize. Struve landed in full mount and pounded away at Herman, who covered up until referee Josh Rosenthal stepped in.
"It wasn’t fireworks like you guys are used to when I fight in the first round," Struve said in his post-fight interview with Jon Anik. "I think the jet lag caught up with me. I didn't get much sleep at night so my energy was a little low. But I can get ten times better. I'm turning 24 this Saturday. I hope you guys enjoy watching me for years to come.”
Other main card action saw Ronny Markes escape with a split decision over fellow middleweight grappler Aaron Simpson, undefeated heayvweight prospect Stipe Miocic remain undefeated with a quick KO of Philip De Fries and T.J. Dillashaw utterly dominate Walel Watson in an extremely lopsided three-round decision.
Longtime veteran Ivan Menjivar also extended his UFC win streak to three straight fights with an impressive submission of "TUF 14" product John Albert, overcoming a tough first round to force the tap via rear-naked choke.
Jonathan Brookins highlighted the undercard with a first-round knockout of Vagner Rocha. In addition, UFC newcomer Justin Salas scored a three-round unanimous nod over fellow rookie Anton Kuivanen.
Two-division King of the Cage champion Tim Means who also successful in his first UFC fight, using superior stand-up to batter Bernardo Magalhaes over three rounds.
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