Jake Ellenberger had been clinging to a Top 10 UFC ranking coming into Sunday night’s The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale bout with Stephen Thompson. He defeated Josh Koscheck in his most recent bout, but Ellenberger had lost three consecutive fights prior to that.
Thompson, however, has been on the rise, winning his four most recent bouts, and eyeing Ellenberger as the big-name victory that could put prompt him into the ranks of the top welterweight fighters in the promotion.
For Thompson the fight couldn’t have gone much better than it did.
He started swiftly, immediately firing off kicks from his Karate-style stance, shifting back and forth from southpaw to orthodox stance.
Ellenberger’s lone bright spot came in an early punch exchange, when he dropped Thompson, but “Wonderboy” immediately returned back to his feet, seemingly not feeling too much after-effect from the knockdown.
But he was more than coherent, he was already calculating. Having noticed that Ellenberger wasn’t showing a lot of movement, Thompson and his coaches noticed a golden opportunity.
“He was standing right in front of me, wasn’t doing a whole lot of movement. I heard my head coach, Ray Thompson, my father, he told me to spin, so I span.”
That spin being of the hook kick variety, which landed flush to Ellenberger’s jaw. He dropped and Thompson followed him down, but couldn’t find the finish.
Ellenberger returned to his feet, but was on wobbly legs.
“I knew I hit him right on top of the head the first time. (My coach) told me to do it again because he was still dazed. I did it again and it landed.”
When Thompson landed the second spinning hook kick, Ellenberger staggered backwards and the fell to his backside. Thompson rushed in, landing one left hand before referee John McCarthy could get between them and halt the fight.
Thompson couldn’t have scripted it any better. Likely to make a jump into the welterweight rankings with such a spectacular finish of the No. 9 ranked fighter in the division, Thompson wants to face more highly ranked competitors moving forward.
“Man, this is my first main event. I came out here to put on a show, hopefully you guys had a great time.”