Jake Ellenberger has had a rollercoaster UFC run over the last few years. Going 2-5 since 2015, it’s easy to forget that “The Juggernaut” was once riding a six-fight win streak and seen as possibly the future of the UFC’s welterweight division. However, with his life and training situation better than ever, he’s more than confident that he can turn it all around this coming weekend at UFC Lincoln.
“There’s been fights where I can admit I beat myself. I’ve got nothing to hide there, that’s just what it was,” Ellenberger told Submission Radio. “But like I said, I think I’ve really turned a lot of corners in the last probably eight months. And even with the last fight, unfortunately we didn’t get to see a lot of the progress that I made. That’s what it’s all about. It’s all about progress and progression.”
“It’s win or die,” said Ellenberger. “I’m really feeling like we’ve hit a new stride. I feel like I’m going faster, I feel like there’s a lot of things that I’m better or progressed more in right now than I ever had in my career.”
Coming off a loss to Ben Saunders in his last fight, Ellenberger admits, “there’s been nights where I couldn’t even sleep just from playing back that fight with Saunders through my head,” and understand why fans and critics may have written him off, but uses that loss as fuel going into this fight against Bryan Barberena.
“I f-cking got lazy, I got complacent, he caught me. Time to move on. But it’s like, if you want to judge a fighter by the passion they have, the fire they have inside them, it’s like, let’s go. I’ve never had more fire than I do right now. It’s like, people wrote me off a long time ago. I don’t even care about that. It’s, I’m fighting for me and I welcome it.”
Despite being unofficially cut from the UFC in 2016 according to Dana White, Ellenberger says that job security isn’t something he’s concerning himself with heading into UFC Lincoln.
“I stopped thinking about that a long time ago,” he said. “In reality, your job is always on the line. It’s like, nothing’s for sure. Nothing’s ever certain in this sport, especially in Mixed Martial Arts. But it is what it is. I think, like you said, every fight is different, every fight you feel a different emotion, you gotta manage different emotions. And for me it’s, I don’t look at it that way at all. Was there a time that I did? Sure, sure. But not right now. Right now I really enjoy it again and I really just have that fire and I’m really looking forward to next weekend. So I take it one fight at a time.”
Other than not wasting thoughts on what lies ahead, Jake finds his new mindset liberating and one that will help him pull the trigger against Barberena.
“I feel like there’s no limitations anymore. I don’t worry about the outcome anymore. (I’m not) worrying about, oh, are they going to drop me? Don’t care. I don’t care anymore. It’s about, this is for me, like I said. And I do think the best is coming out.
“I know what I gotta do again. And you know what? You gotta not care. Not care about what you look like, not care about what people think. It’s just me. It’s just me and him in there and I’m gonna let it all go.”
Ellenberger vs. Barberena is on the main card of UFC Fight Night: Gaethje vs. Vick, which starts at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT on Saturday, August 25th.