UFC Fight Night 25 Recap: Jake Ellenberger has arrived

nullIf anyone had doubts about Jake Ellenberger being a top contender in the UFC welterweight division, they were put to rest on Saturday night.

The rising star knocked out Jake Shields in under a minute in the main event of UFC Fight Night 25, giving him the biggest win of his career over the recent No. 1 contender in the division.

It was an explosive victory, as Ellenberger used a big knee to set up a flurry of punches from the ground to finish the fight. But, in that short time, Ellenberger showed the tools he needs to be a star.

Early in the fight he threw an uppercut that would have ended the fight if it landed. Clearly he found a hole in Shields game in terms of his ability to defend inside punches.

Also, Shields had a few weak takedown attempts that Shields easily defended. In this division, takedown defense is going to be a big thing for Ellenberger.

His striking is on par with anyone in the division and his aggression is up there with anyone, which makes him a dangerous opponent. He is a fighter that is willing to fall on his sword in hopes of winning a fight, but he has all the skills to avoid that fate.

It will be interesting to see what is next for Ellenberger as he awaits the UFC welterweight Final Four that is coming up at UFC 137 in late October.

I will also be interested to see what is next for Shields. His drop to welterweight in the UFC has been anything but stellar, as he is now 1-2 and his one win was razor thin. Perhaps a move back to 185 pounds will be in order.

UFC Fight Night 25 Picks & Predictions

nullUFC Fight Night 25 takes place on Saturday night from New Orleans with a solid card of four free fights.

Here is a look at which fighters I like on Saturday, and why.

UFC Welterweight Bout – Jake Shields (26-5-1) vs. Jake Ellenberger (25-5) – Shields is coming off the loss of his father, which may affect his performance, but I think this is his fight to lose. Ellenberger is a rising star and clearly the better striker, but he is taking a big step up in competition. I see Shields being able to work in his takedowns and grappling control to earn a tough decision victory.

UFC Middleweight Bout – Court McGee (12-1) vs. Dongi Yang (10-1) – This is a classic striker vs. grappler match up, and I like the grappler to prevail. Yang has big punching power, but I see McGee getting this fight up against the cage where Yang will be neutralized. From there, look for McGee to grind out a few takedowns and eventually secure a choke in the later rounds.

UFC Featherweight Bout – Jonathan Brookins (13-3) vs. Erik Koch (12-1) – Koch is considered the favorite according to the oddsmakers, but my pick goes with Brookins. He needs a lot of work in his striking, but his grappling takes a back seat to nobody in the division. I see Brookins taking a few punches early, but eventually getting inside Koch and using a judo throw or roll to get the fight to the ground. From there, I expect Brookins to work in a choke to get the win.

UFC Middleweight Bout – Alan Belcher (15-5) vs. Jason MacDonald (26-14) – Belcher makes his return after more than a year off and he has a lot to fight for. He was a rising star in the division prior to his eye injury and he should have the skills to get past MacDonald, who is somewhat one dimensional, with a great submission skill set. Look for Belcher to pick apart MacDonald on his feet and avoid the ground game as he gets a decision win.

UFC Fight Night 25 Weigh-In Results

nullWeigh ins for UFC Fight Night 25 took place on Friday night and all of the main event fighters made weight for the card.

In the main event, welterweights Jake Shields (171) and Jake Ellenberger (170) came in on weight. The two are both fighting for a top-5 spot in a very stacked 170-pound division. Shields is hoping to bounce back after a loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129, while Jake Ellenberger is taking on the biggest challenge of his MMA career.

In the co-main event, Court McGee (184.5) and Dongi Yang (186) came in on weight for the 186-pound limit. This fight lacks some name power, but the UFC must feel they will put on a good show. Both guys leave it all in the cage, with Yang being an explosive striker and McGee being a relentless grappler that likes to scrap on occasion. McGee would be wise to stick to making this an ugly fight in hopes of avoiding a big knockout punch.

For full weigh-in results for Saturday’s card, check out the jump. Results are courtesy of Sherdog.com.

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UFC Fight Night 25 Betting Odds – Shields Favored

nullUFC Fight Night 25 – Battle on the Bayou takes place this Saturday night on Spike TV and features a solid card for a free MMA event.

When looking at the betting odds for this card, Jake Shields finds himself as the favorite against Jake Ellenberger in the main event of Saturday’s event. Shields has a money line of -185 while Ellenberger comes in at +155. This is a pretty classic striker vs. grappler matchup. Shields has the experience and grappling edge while Ellenberger is the better striker and has more to gain in this contest. It should be an explosive fight that will pave the way for the winner to become a top 5 contender.

Alan Belcher makes his return to the UFC after more than a year away due to a career-threatening eye injury. Belcher will face off with UFC veteran, Jason MacDonald in a middleweight bout. The local hero, Belcher, is the favorite in the fight with odds of -275. MacDonald comes in with a money line of +215. Belcher is a guy that enjoys using his striking and clinch game to beat up opponents. MacDonald is more of a submission specialist that will want to get the fight down to the ground.

In other featured bouts, Jonathan Brookins (+165) opens as an underdog to Erik Koch (-205) in his first fight since winning The Ultimate Fighter last December. Another TUF winner, Court McGee (-165) opens as a favorite in his contest with Dongi Yang (+135).

Shields to fight Sept. 17 despite loss of father

nullI am not the biggest Jake Shields fan in the world.

But, I have to give the guy a lot of credit.

Shields will stick with his upcoming bout against Jake Ellenberger on Sept. 17 despite losing his father, Jack, at the age of 67 on Tuesday.

MMAFighting.com first reported that Shields would be fighting in a few weeks.

Jake Shields has decided to go through with his Sept. 17 fight against Jake Ellenberger at UFC Fight Night 25 following the recent death of his father and manager, Jack Shields. MMA Fighting confirmed the fighter’s decision with UFC officials.

GracieFighter.com broke the news of Jack Shields’ passing on Tuesday. He was 67 years old.

No word just yet on the cause of death. According to Sherdog.com, Shields died in his sleep on Monday at his Sacramento, Calif., home.

“Lost my father manager and one of my best friends today!! R.I.P jack you will be greatly missed and loved by many,” Shields was quoted as saying on the Web site.

I am fortunate to still have my father alive and well, but just the sheer thought of him passing away is enough for me to not want to do anything the rest of the day.

I am sure this is a tough time for Jake and I wish him my best as he goes through this period. I also give him a lot of respect for taking the fight with Ellenberger. It is a dangerous fight for him but I am sure he will have a lot of support going into the contest.

Jon Fitch is mad as hell and doesn’t want to take it anymore

Jon Fitch has been a No. 1 contender for a long time, but a title fight doesn’t appear to be in his future.

A lengthy recovery from an injury has caused the UFC veteran to be lost in the mix in the UFC welterweight division.

As you can see in the video, Fitch is not happy about being passed up for many of the big fights in the division and he is ready to do something about it.

Fitch has some good points. The guy has one loss in 15 UFC fights, and that was to current champ, Georges St. Pierre.

He is coming off a draw against B.J. Penn, but had that been a five-round fight, it appeared that Fitch was well on his way to another win.

Despite his lack of finishes, Fitch is still one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and he deserves more respect than he is getting.

Shields vs. Ellenberger to take place at Ultimate Fight Night 25

nullIn some news that was quietly released on Sunday, it appears we have a main event for UFC Fight Night 25, dubbed “Battle on the Bayou”.

MMAFighting.com reported Sunday night that welterweights Jake Shields and Jake Ellenberger will collide. First rumors thought the bout may take place in San Jose at UFC 138, but it was announced on Tuesday that it will take place at UFC Fight Night 25.

Though the fight has not yet been made official by the UFC, sources close to the bout confirmed to MMA Fighting last week that the fighters have agreed to the planned matchup for this fall.

While a location for the fight is not yet certain, one possibility is the UFC’s planned Nov. 19 card in San Jose, Calif. That will be the promotion’s debut in the northern California city, about 40 miles south of the San Francisco Bay area, where Shields lives and trains. That event is likely to be UFC 138, though it has not yet been made official by the UFC.

Shields (26-5-1) is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129 while Ellenberger (25-5) has won four in a row. His last win was a first round KO of Sean Pierson at UFC 129.

Ellenberger is one of the promotion’s top rising welterweights and this will be the biggest fight he has had to date. His striking should be vastly superior to that of Shields, but his takedown defense and grappling will certainly be tested.

Top 10 Welterweight Rankings

nullThis week’s rankings turn to the welterweight division.

It has been a busy couple of months in this division as two of the top 10 suffered losses since my last 170-pound rankings came out.

So, without further ado, here are my top 10 in this division.

1. Georges St. Pierre (22-2) – St. Pierre successfully defeated Jake Shields, but did so by decision. His performance wasn’t great, but it was still enough to end a lengthy win streak by Shields. Instead of moving up to middleweight, St. Pierre will now take on Nick Diaz at UFC 137 in October.

2. Jon Fitch (23-3-1) – Fitch is coming off shoulder surgery and is targeting a return in late 2011. He was originally pushing for a title fight, but is now looking toward a rematch with B.J. Penn. With the UFC implementing five-round main events for non-title fights, Fitch would seem to have the edge there as he got stronger as the first fight with Penn went on.

3. Josh Koscheck (15-5) – Koscheck has been on the shelf for a few months now as he recovers from a broken orbital bone. Koscheck should return in late 2011, and hopefully he can continue to show some solid skills when he gets back. A powerful striker and wrestler, Koscheck has the skills to win it all if he can do the little things to put together the whole package.

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Penn challenges Shields, Shields accepts

nullSee what fun can come through Twitter?

On Monday night B.J. Penn released the following statement on his Twitter account:

@jakeshieldsajj I would never challenge one of Cesar Gracie’s guys, but you’ve been calling me out for years.Let’s do it! I’ll contact Dana

This was a challenge to Jake Shields, who is coming off a decision loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129.

Shields was quick to answer with this:

@bjpenndotcom even better, let’s make it the first 5 round non-title fight

B.J. then had his last reply:

@jakeshieldsajj If that makes you feel more confident….. sure.

This fight would be good for both men as Penn needs a marquee fight to get back into the hunt in the welterweight division and Shields needs to get a big-time win in the octagon after two shaky performances in the UFC.

A matchup with Penn and Shields would feature arguably the two best jiu-jitsu fighters in all of MMA and certainly in the 170-pound category.

Now, just because these two agree to fight on Twitter doesn’t mean the UFC will make it happen, but this is a fight they will have to strongly consider.

Is Nick Diaz the man that can beat GSP?

nullIt didn’t take fans long after Georges St. Pierre beat Jake Shields at UFC 129 to start clamoring for St. Pierre’s next opponent.

Despite talk of a super fight between GSP and Anderson Silva, the fans are requesting a champion vs. champion showdown between St. Pierre and Strikeforce Welterweight Champion, Nick Diaz.

Diaz’ hype man trainer, Cesar Gracie, had some very strong thoughts about the fight that he told MMAMainia.

“Nick is a superstar already. He is. Wherever we go with the guy, everybody, fan support, whether you love him or hate him, you have to respect his fighting style.”

“You got a guy like GSP and he’s fighting to just win and you’ve got a guy like Nick Diaz, who’s fighting to beat your ass. The fans, I think know the difference now and I think that’s why if you go to forums, if you wanted to talk about after this particular show, look at all the amazing things that happened: Randy Couture retiring, that’s huge. You had that great kick from Machida, you had so many things happen that were phenomenal but what most people were talking about is Nick Diaz and he didn’t even fight.”

“You want to talk about superstardom? Nick Diaz IS the superstar right now and he didn’t get there by playing any games. He’s not gonna play the game. He is who he is and I think people are finally getting sick and tired of the BS and the polished answers. These guys are great athletes but they’re not fighters and a guy like Nick captures the imagination of what MMA is truly about or was supposed to be about.”

Diaz has been impressive, but I think the level of competition for both fighters has been vastly different.

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