Rising welterweight Jake Ellenberger made a big division statement when he knocked out Sean Pierson in the first round. Ellenberger took the fight on short notice after Pierson’s original opponent Brian Foster pulled out due to injury.
The two fighters circled each other early. Ellenberger landed a takedown just under two minutes but Pierson was able to get back up. Prior to the fight, Jake worked with Rafael Cordeiro on his striking and it showed; Ellenberger began to find a home for his right hand.
A counter left hook connected and Pierson slowly dropped like a tree to the mat. Ellenberger followed with right hook on his way down and referee Herb Dean quickly came to the rescue.
“I’m completely happy,” commented Ellenberger about his performance. “I took the fight on 16 days notice; I was already ready.”
“There’s so many people, it’s hard to stay relaxed in there. I didn’t know I caught him until he went down. He was jabbing and then I just caught him with the hook. I was a little worried because it was a late-notice fight, but I came out with the win so I was happy about that.”
“Mentally, I was ready to go three rounds but nothing can get you ready for that crowd. I’ve been to a lot of UFC shows, but I’ve never heard anything like that. It’s hard to explain. It’s hard to stay relaxed in there.”
Canada’s own Rory MacDonald bounced back from the first loss of his career with a huge victory over Ultimate Fighter Season 5 winner Nate Diaz.
MacDonald use front kicks early to get a feel for Diaz. Nate carefully stalked his young opponent, eventually pinning him against the cage. After a failed takedown scramble, the two fighters return to the center of the Octagon where MacDonald landed a superman punch. As the round progressed, it was apparent that MacDonald was the better striker.
Diaz was unable to secure a takedown as MacDonald continued to land the cleaner shots in the second. The Canadian fighter was able to score two takedowns but chose not to work in Diaz’s guard. MacDonald finished the round showcasing some quick combinations that were reminiscent to of Georges St. Pierre.
MacDonald landed two huge suplexes in the beginning of the final round, drawing a huge applause from the crowd. This time, MacDonald engaged Diaz on the ground and began to punish him with big strikes and another suplex. With his confidence high, the 21-year old Canadian fighter finished the fight strong and in full control.
After three rounds, MacDonald was announced as the winner by unanimous decision.
“I’m on top of the world,” elated MacDonald afterwards. “The gameplan was to control the fight. For those who watched my last fight, I got very emotional; I got pumped up by the crowd. I have a lot of things to work on. I moved to Firas’ (Zahabi) camp Tristar, he took me under his wing and prepare so well for this fight.”
“He turned and exposed his back to me and that’s a pretty natural movement for me. I feel very strong in that position,” said MacDonald regarding the first slam. “He kept turning his back to me. I was really surprised by the third one. I felt like I was going to keep slamming him until the end of the round.”