Jake Ellenberger Learned to Wrestle the Hard Way

By Carlos Arias Feb 15, 2012

UFC welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger was well into his MMA career when he first stepped foot on a wrestling mat.

“I didn’t start wrestling until I was a bout 21 (years old),” said Ellenberger, who started kickboxing when he was 5 years old. “I kind of learned wrestling the hard way. So many people think I started wrestling when I was young. I never did. I really did it to help my career in MMA. I needed to learn how to wrestle. I had lost a couple of fights and I realized how important wrestling was, so I decided to go for it and it’s helped out a lot in my career.”

Ellenberger, a former Marine, was a walk-on at the University of Nebraska-Omaha where he wrestled for a year. He stayed on as an assistant coach for the team for three years, helping UNO win two NCAA Division II national titles.

“I never wrestled varsity,” Ellenberger said. “I never had any ambition to have a wrestling career. It was actually for MMA. I had already started fighting before I got into wrestling. I just trained wrestling to become a better fighter.”

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