Jake Ellenberger respects everybody he steps in the cage with, but one stands above the rest.
Ellenberger (Twitter: @EllenbergerMMA) is recently coming off the biggest victor of his blossoming career. At Ultimate Fight Night 25, Ellenberger dismantled the former UFC welterweight No. 1 contender Jake Shields in dominating fashion.
With the knockout victory over Shields, Ellenberger improved to an impressive 26-5 and increased his consecutive win streak to five.
“It was the biggest opportunity of my career to fight Jake Shields, who is a world champion, and to headline a UFC event,” Ellenberger explained to Joe Rizzo on Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMADieHards Radio Network. “This was definitely a big milestone in my career. I’m still training hard every day and I’ve been really focused over the last few years.”
Making the main-event bout look effortless, Ellenberger came in and took care of business against Shields, ending the bout in 53 seconds.
Planning to come out pressuring the Cesar Gracie Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Ellenberger and his coaches had a game plan that worked precisely the way things were predicted. Staying out of Shields’ world – the ground – was a focus for the Nebraskan.
“I was very confident going in to this fight — training with my coaches had been amazing and (they were) really believing in me,” Ellenberger said. “It all went according to plan. Controlling where the fight goes was the key to this fight and keeping the pressure on him. It was a little quicker than anticipated, but the same ending.”
However, coming into this feature bout, Shields had suffered a tragic personal misfortune. Jack Shields was father, manager and friend of the seasoned fighter, whose life came to an end at the age of 67, three weeks before their bout.
Even with the loss, Shields thought it best to continue with the fight and keep on moving with life.
Understanding if Shields was to have pulled out, Ellenberger has a new-found respect for the former Strikeforce middleweight champion.
“I would have totally understood if he had pulled out of the fight,” expressed Ellenberger. “I don’t even know what I would have done; I can’t even say that I would have stayed in the fight. There are very few reasons as to why someone can pull from a fight and that would be at the top of the list, if a family member passed away like that.
“I respect Jake’s decision to stay in the fight – you can’t ignore that – and you can’t ignore the fact that he is probably going through some of the hardest times in his life. I definitely respect him as a professional for that.”
Ellenberger had suffered the loss of a family member close to him and can relate to some of the emotions that Shields might have experienced. Knowing first-hand what Shields was going through helped Ellenberger look at Shields more highly as an individual.
“As much as I wanted to compete against him for a while,” admitted Ellenberger, “I keep in mind that he is a human being and that he lost a family member, which I’ve been through, and there is nothing easy about it. I had respect for him before as a fighter and even more now afterwards.”