Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Jake Ellenberger and Jorge Masvidal will duel this Saturday (Dec. 3, 2016) at The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale: “Tournament of Champions” inside “The Pearl” in Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
After losing five of six bouts, Ellenberger’s UFC career was seemingly over. However, “The Juggernaut” was able to bargain for one more chance, and he made the most of it by knocking out his foe, Matt Brown, in the first round. On the other hand, Masvidal has proven that he can compete with anyone in the world, but consistent wins elude him. Every single one of his UFC losses has been a close decision, as “Gamebred” sometimes fails to capitalize on his technical advantages.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: Matt Brown (UFC 201), Nate Marquardt (UFC 158), Jake Shields (UFC Fight Night 25), Mike Pyle (UFC 108)
Key Losses: Robbie Lawler (UFC 173), Rory MacDonald (UFC on FOX 8), Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 180)
Keys to Victory: Ellenberger’s career saving win can be credited to one thing: power. Ellenberger is an incredibly explosive athlete capable of flattening most of the division, and that has carried him a long way.
It’s also worth mentioning that Ellenberger’s move to King’s MMA under Rafael Cordeiro was probably a smart move. In his last bout, the liver kick he used to crush Matt Brown showed the Brazilian’s immediate influence. Despite all that I said about Ellenberger’s power, his focus cannot be on the knockout. Masvidal is durable as hell and nearly impossible to put away, meaning that going all out early for the finish will probably only ruin Ellenberger’s gas tank.
Instead, Ellenberger needs to fight at a measured pace and score in big moments. If he lands a few big combinations or a couple key takedowns per round, he can stay ahead on the scorecards and hand his foe another frustrating loss.
Key Wins: Cezar Ferreira (TUF 21 Finale), Tim Means (UFC on FOX 7), James Krause (UFC 178)
Key Losses: Lorenz Larkin (UFC Fight Night 88), Benson Henderson (UFC Fight Night 79)
Keys to Victory: Masvidal is one of the smoothest technicians in the UFC. There’s no area of MMA in which “Gamebred” is not quite skilled, and his only issue has been failing to push the pace in close bouts.
In this bout, pace will be especially important. Ellenberger cannot match Masvidal’s technical skill in any area, but he’s a better athlete and knows how to win rounds. There’s a clear strategy for Masvidal in this match up, and the name of the game is pressure. If he can work behind his jab and force Ellenberger to work constantly, his opponent will slow down considerably. Before long, that athleticism won’t matter, and Masvidal can overwhelm his opponent.
Since the main point is pressure and volume, this gameplan also takes away the issue of Masvidal hanging back too much. If he sticks to the script, he holds a very strong chance of pulling away with a win.
Bottom Line: It’s a competitive battle of Welterweights just outside the Top 10.
Ellenberger earned himself a bit of breathing room with his last win, but that can disappear quickly. He won’t find himself on the chopping block with a loss here, but it leaves him without much job security. In short, Ellenberger could really use a two-fight win streak. He’s not likely to ever contend for the title or go on a significant run, but if Ellenberger can put some space between himself and that dreadful 1-5 run, it’ll ensure he’s still a member of the division.
Like his foe, Masvidal definitely wants to start a new win streak here. His losses rarely cost him much ground since they’re so close, but he’s been unable to build any real momentum. If he can defeat Ellenberger in a strong performance, that will go a long way in earning him a step up the ladder. On the other hand, another loss puts Masvidal in a difficult position. If he hasn’t been able to make any ground after five fights at 170 pounds, he may want to consider dropping back down to Lightweight.
At TUF 24 Finale, Jake Ellenberger and Jorge Masvidal will throw down. Which fighter will leave the Octagon with a victory?