by Samantha L. Johnson – MMAWeekly.com
Imagine you have completed an entire training camp, cut weight within five pounds of your goal, sacrificed and put life outside of training on hold for three months, and you’re told two days before the scheduled fight that your opponent has been matched with another
fighter and you are no longer fighting. Back to square one, but not before a stop at the buffet.
This is exactly what happened to Jake Ellenberger (22-5) in March when he was scheduled to face Ben Saunders at UFC 111. After Thiago Alves was told he was not medically cleared to fight due to a brain abnormality, Jon Fitch was left without an opponent. Seeing an
opportunity in matching Fitch and Saunders, UFC matchmaker Joe Silva solved his dilemma by simply subbing Saunders for Alves.
“There was definitely a lot of stress mentally and physically,” explained Ellenberger. “I mean, we were 24 hours to weigh-ins when I found out I wasn’t fighting, so I immediately went downstairs (in the hotel) to the buffet and had the biggest buffet meal I’ve had in... oh, it was awesome! Then I went home and reevaluated my situation, talked to my manager about possibly when I could get on again. I took it easy for a little bit, but then got right back in the gym.
Shortly after returning home and returning to the gym, Ellenberger was offered to fight John Howard on the UFC on Versus 2 card. After plugging away in Nebraska for a few months, Ellenberger made the trek to Southern California to train with Mark Munoz at his newly
opened Reign Training Center in Lake Forest, Calif.
“My strength and conditioning coach is one of Mark Munoz’s really good friends and he introduced me to Mark; that’s how I met Munoz,” said Ellenberger. “I came out here in May and trained with him. I just loved it. It is a lot of high-level guys here training. It pushes me; I feel comfortable.”
Training with the assemblage at Reign TC, Ellenberger is constantly being pushed. His training partners include the likes of Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal, the Nogueira brothers, Jason Miller, Mark Munoz, Jay Silva, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, and many others.
“It’s a night and day difference,” explained Ellenberger. “Back home we have good coaches; we have awesome coaches. But when I come out here, (it’s) just the level of training partners. I’ve been sparring with “King Mo,” wrestling with Munoz. These are Olympic caliber wrestlers and guys who’ve been fighting for a long time.”
Training with other fighters who have been in the game for a while is a huge advantage for the 25-year-old Ellenberger. Though he has 27 fights, and went 12-0 before tasting his first defeat, Ellenberger is still young and can learn from training partners such as “Mayhem” Miller, who have been fighting for a decade.
“There’s so many good guys in the gym,” said Ellenberger. “I constantly keep getting different tips. Training with so many high level guys has made me really confident; especially going against a guy like Howard.”
L. Johnson is a freelance writer originally from Southeast Idaho,currently
living in Las Vegas, NV. Visit her at www.sxjohnson.net
for her ramblings of on living in the MMA Mecca.