Take for instance current UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit.
Through 27 wins in his career, Condit had only gone to decision one time up until his victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 143 earlier this year. In the fight, Condit was elusive and game planned perfectly to avoid Diaz’s move forward boxing style, and won a unanimous decision.
Still despite the scorecards reading heavily in Condit’s favor, many journalists and fans alike panned the New Mexico fighter for ‘running’ and ‘not coming to fight’, and he has been branded by these monikers in almost a permanent way ever since the fight ended.
Condit’s career statistics seems to speak loud volumes about his ability to finish opponents as opposed to this one fight where he fought a smart strategy and came away with a victory.
Well, count Ultimate Fighter Live main event fighter Jake Ellenberger as a fighter who understands what it means to be a ‘prisoner of the moment’ when it comes to post fight criticism.
In his last fight, Ellenberger dominated former Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Sanchez for the better part of 10-minutes in their fight that headlined the first ever UFC on Fuel TV card. In the third round however, Sanchez battled back and ended up with Ellenberger in a bad position late in the fight when time ran out.
It appeared as the third round wore on that Ellenberger’s gas tank was depleted while Sanchez remained ready to fire on all cylinders.
See, despite the UFC’s recent decree that all non-title main events would be five round affairs, the bout between Ellenberger and Sanchez was only scheduled for three, and thus when the fight ended it was Ellenberger who won across the board because of his dominance in rounds one and two.
But after the fight, Ellenberger dealt with the brunt of criticism flung his way. ‘He can’t go five rounds.’ ‘Did you see his cardio fading?’ ‘If that fight had gone on for one more round, Sanchez would have finished him.’.
“Well first I think Diego is an extremely tough fight. I think he’s a tough fight for anybody in the world. He would be a tough fight for anybody who competes in MMA. I say that because you can watch this guy on TV and say wow he looks tough, but anybody who fights him and you’ll see how tough he is,” Ellenberger explained about the third round with Sanchez when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio.
“He’s not going to roll over, he fights with a lot of heart and that’s not that common. A lot of guys don’t have a lot of heart and he definitely does. He definitely had me in a bad position in that third round. That’s a very hard position, but I actually love that position. I do that position a lot myself so I know how extremely tough it is to get out of it.”
Is the criticism fair or foul? Was Ellenberger’s cardio really failing in that third round?
“In the last fight could I have gone five rounds? Absolutely. I think people need to take in mind (saying) ‘oh he looked tired.’ Well, he had my back. That is the worst position to be in, in a fight. I’d rather be mounted than for someone to have your back because it’s so hard to escape. I obviously escaped the position at the end of the fight, but could I have fought two more rounds? Absolutely,” Ellenberger stated.
“People can speculate but if I had to go five (rounds) I absolutely could.”
For his next fight coming up this Friday night in Las Vegas, Ellenberger may very well get the chance to prove that theory. He faces Martin Kampmann in the main event of the Ultimate Fighter Live season finale, and it is scheduled for five, five-minute rounds.
Of course like any fighter, Ellenberger’s goal is to put Kampmann away fast and quick in the first round, but if it doesn’t go that way he’s prepared for a 25-minute war of attrition.
“People talk all the time, I don’t really care to be honest. I’m just going to control what I can control, and I’m going to prepare myself for five rounds knowing that this fight could definitely go five rounds,” said Ellenberger.
Ellenberger admits that in the sport of MMA just about everybody is judging on the last performance they saw. Good or bad, right or wrong, every journalist, fan, or critic alike can be guilty of being stuck as a ‘prisoner of the moment’.
Looking back at the Condit/Diaz fight, Ellenberger can sympathize with what the current UFC interim champion is dealing with.
“That’s the thing about this sport, people generally judge on one fight,” said Ellenberger. “I’m a fan of Carlos and honestly if I was going to fight (Nick) Diaz, I’m not going to stand right there in front of him and box him. That would be stupid, who would do that? I thought Carlos fought smart and he won the fight. He did what he had to do to win, and I didn’t think it was a close fight even. I thought he won that fight.”
So if people are going to question Jake Ellenberger’s cardio after one round of one fight that he ultimately won, he can’t do anything about that except train his hardest and if his bout with Martin Kampmann goes past the third round, he’ll happily prove every doubter wrong.
“People are always going to judge and say what they want, and jump ship, but that’s the sincerity of this sport,” said Ellenberger. “People like to make opinions and change their minds on very small things.”