Last night (May 24) in Las Vegas, Jake Ellenberger suffered his second consecutive loss in the 170 pound division.
Going down in TKO defeat in the third round of his UFC 173 match with the No. 1 ranked Robbie Lawler, Ellenberger demonstrated that he had no definitive answer for his opponent’s superior stand-up game.
Outstruck on the feet 68 – 29 and taking all the damage, the “Juggernaut” handed in another lackluster, low volume performance, and one that appears to have left UFC President Dana White questioning Ellenberger’s heart.
At the post-fight media scrum, White stated that Ellenberger seems to have trouble “pulling the trigger” in big fights. Specifically, White made note of the fact that this is the second fight in a row where Ellenberger has failed to “step up” when required. By White’s view, the fighter has “a lot of work to do” if he’s to be a serious contender in the welterweight division.
"Listen, there are guys that pull the triggers when it's time to step up, and there are guys who don't pull the trigger. This is two times where he was in the spotlight and had big opportunities and he didn't pull the trigger. When you're in a big fight like that, and you're down two rounds, you come out in that third round and you try and win. He didn't do that. He didn't do it in the MacDonald fight either. He's got a lot of work to do."
White raises a valid point. Going into the final round, Ellenberger must have known that he was losing the fight, and short of stopping Lawler in the third he wouldn’t be able to cull the win. Yet, in coming out to answer the last bell, Ellenberger only managed to land a woeful five strikes in the three-minutes-and-six-seconds of action. In short, Ellenberger didn’t lay it on the line.
As to the “work” that White speaks of, it appears that it might have more to do with the “Juggernaut’s” heart than anything else. Coming off of his disappointing performance and loss to Rory MacDonald at last July’s UFC on Fox 8: Johnson vs. Moraga card, Ellenberger heard the same criticisms from White and professed to have gotten the boss’s message. However, in last night’s match with Lawler, Ellenberger once again failed to put out the third round effort that was required of him to be able to win the fight.
As to where Ellenberger goes from here it’s hard to say. He can ill afford another loss and may well need a win just to keep his job. He has skill and power to be sure. However, he doesn’t always bring the best game plan. Perhaps working on his fight strategy might be a good place for the “Juggernaut” to start, when re-evaluating his ring performance.