LAS VEGAS -- A couple of week’s back, after he beat journeyman Sean Pierson at UFC 129 via a first round knockout, Jake Ellenberger began calling out former No. 1 contender Jake Shields. Everything was Jake.
But Ellenberger broke his fourth metacarpal in his left hand in Toronto and has since been recovering from a surgical procedure he had done three weeks back. By the time he returns sometime in the fall, there could be any variety of top-10 talent available to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to sic on Ellenberger.
Which is fine by the former D-II wrestling champion Ellenberger -- so long as Silva reads carefully the first part of that formula of giving him a “top-10” opponent.
“Honestly, I really don’t care who I fight,” Ellenberger said in Las Vegas ahead of UFC 130. “I definitely want to fight one of the top-10 guys -- Shields, [Jon] Fitch, [Josh] Koscheck, [Diego] Sanchez, any of those guys, man. I’m still getting better, and I’m ready for one of those guys.”
Asked to narrow that list on the premise of stylistic match-ups, Ellenberger didn’t hesitate.
“Fitch or Koscheck, you know, either one of them, they’re both up there in the top-10,” he said. “They’re veterans, and they’ve been around for a long time. I feel confident. My training keeps getting better and better, and I keep training with better guys like Mark Munoz and Rafael Cordeiro. My confidence is high right now.
“I think I can outwrestle guys like Fitch and Koscheck. They’re fantastic fighters. I have nothing bad to say about them, but I feel I’m ready for that level of opponent.”