On the day that Jake Shields signed his contract to become a fighter in the UFC, Jake Ellenberger was already picking up the phone to try and be the first to face him.
Having already fought in the UFC a few times himself, Ellenberger looked at Shields as a challenge, especially coming off his win over Dan Henderson, but also looked at him as someone that he knew he could beat.
See, Jake Ellenberger never believed Jake Shields was as good as some people thought he was, and he had the idea to stop the hype train before it went any further.
“I just never really believed it. Jake Shields is the best middleweight in the world, the best welterweight in the world, like I never believed it,” Ellenberger told MMAWeekly Radio. “He has beat some very tough opponents, but it’s nothing personal against him, he’s probably a great guy. I’m sure we could be friends afterwards, but I was just never sold on him.”
Looking at his past fights, Ellenberger gives Shields credit for the wins, but believes that it was just as much about the right time and right place as it was for how he won those matches.
“He is really good at what he does; he’s a control guy. He’s not real dangerous. He’s definitely a top-level grappler, but when I saw him fight Dan Henderson, Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller, there’s a lot of holes in his game. He does what he needs to win,” said Ellenberger.
“He catches Dan (Henderson) on a bad fight, Dan being injured and stuff, I’m just intrigued by the match-up. It’s definitely motivated me to push myself just to get there.”
Top-level grappler could almost be an insult to Shields, who is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and has dominated several opponents the moment the fight hits the mat. Ellenberger knows how good Shields is when he gets the fight to the ground, but first he has to get it there.
If Shields is fortunate enough to get the fight to the ground, Ellenberger says he’s just as confident there as he is anywhere and it’s his opponent that should be the one worrying.
“I’ve never been one to worry about what my opponents are going to do. I’m worried about how I’m going to execute. For me being able to control where this fight goes is going to be a big factor on this fight, and I have complete confidence that I’m going to be able to do that,” Ellenberger stated.
Looking at the rankings, Shields is still rated as a top five welterweight and has a spot near the top that Ellenberger covets.
It’s for that reason and that reason alone that Ellenberger wanted this fight. He wants to get closer to the title, and the best way to do that is to challenge and then defeat a fighter the caliber of Jake Shields.
“This is a very selfish sport and I want to be at the top,” said Ellenberger. “To be honest, at the time he was where I wanted to be. That’s just a guy I want to take out, and I get to prove it this weekend.”
With his life now moved to California where he works alongside fighters at the Reign Training Center, Ellenberger is confident that this is the best he’s ever been. He’s confident that he’s going to get his title shot, and he’s definitely confident that he’s going to beat Jake Shields.
“I really believe it’s my time,” Ellenberger stated.
He’ll get the chance to prove that in the main event of UFC Fight Night 25 this weekend in New Orleans.