The fans voted and their voices have been heard. Jake Ellenberger is the MMAWeekly.com Breakout Fighter of the Year for 2011.
By just a slim margin, Ellenberger edged out American Kickboxing Academy standout and Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix finalist Daniel Cormier in the polls.
The UFC welterweight was excited to hear the news and attributes his hard work ethic to being recognized by MMAWeekly.com readers.
“It’s awesome, man,” Ellenberger told MMAWeekly.com about winning the award. “It’s definitely an honor to even be considered for that award. I’ve dedicated my life to training to be a world champ. I think the time I put in (and) discipline I’ve had (have) definitely showed a little bit.”
Before he even got to the UFC, “The Juggernaut” was already a veteran of the game with 25 professional fights under his belt. His UFC debut in September of 2009 was no easy contest, dropping a tough split decision to current interim title contender Carlos Condit.
Since the Condit fight, Ellenberger has made sure not to repeat the outcome of his promotional debut, winning five straight fights. In four of those five outings, he’s finished his opponent before the final bell.
The most significant win for Ellenberger has to be his latest one. When he fought Jake Shields at UFC Fight Night 25, the Nebraska-born fighter finished the former Strikeforce middleweight champion in the first round. Ellenberger recently told MMAWeekly.com that the Shields win was one of the biggest of his career, and, admittedly, he thought it would go the distance. Fortunately for him, the finish came a lot quicker than anticipated.
Ellenberger’s next challenge is another welterweight that’s made headlines in UFCs past. Diego Sanchez will face the Breakout Fighter of the Year at UFC on Fuel TV 1 on Feb. 15 as the evening’s main event. There’s a strong indication that a win over someone the caliber of Sanchez will propel The Juggernaut into the title picture for 2012.
But while he prepares for Sanchez, the fighter that trains at Reign Training Center and Kings MMA will soak up the recognition from fans as the man of the hour. He admits that he’s excited to receive such an honor and is grateful to UFC and MMA fans from around the world for picking him as MMAWeekly.com’s Breakout Fighter of the Year.
“I appreciate it, man. I’m stoked,” he said. “It’s just cool – having grown up watching and looking at these big-time fighters – to be nominated for that… wow, I’m blown away.