Since he debuted in the UFC with a narrow split-decision loss to Carlos Condit, Jake Ellenberger has been on a tear in the Octagon, winning five straight fights, including a first-round knockout of former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields in September. A Nebraska native, Ellenberger figures to be an overwhelming crowd favorite when he takes on Diego Sanchez in the UFC on Fuel TV 1 main event on Wednesday in Omaha, Neb.
“The Juggernaut” is also a heavy favorite in Sherdog’s MMA Pick’Em game, as 78 percent of players like him to defeat Sanchez. The Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative will not go down easily, however. After a stint at lightweight that ended with a lopsided championship defeat to B.J. Penn, Sanchez has been gathering momentum since he returned to welterweight, beating Paulo Thiago and Martin Kampmann in his last two outings.
The winner of Ellenberger-Sanchez is not guaranteed an immediate title shot in the suddenly tumultuous 170-pound division, but an impressive showing could easily put either man in the discussion.
In the co-main event, 52 percent of participants favor Dave Herman to notch his second straight victory in the Octagon by defeating Stefan Struve in a heavyweight tussle. Herman debuted at UFC 131, dispatching John Olav Einemo by technical knockout in the second frame. The Team Quest export has won 15 fights by knockout or technical knockout.
The 6-foot-11 Struve was victorious in his last appearance, submitting Pat Barry at UFC Live 6. The Dutchman is 6-3 in the UFC, with all three of his losses coming inside of a round.
Other Pick’Em Trends for the UFC on Fuel 1 main card:
• A solid 84 percent of users believe Aaron Simpson can put his wrestling skills to use and topple Ronny Markes in a middleweight contest. The Power MMA product has won his last three, beating Eric Schafer, Brad Tavares and Mario Miranda. Markes made his UFC debut in August with a unanimous decision triumph over Karlos Vemola.
• Though both men are unbeaten heavyweights, a vast majority of participants (87 percent) like Stipe Miocic to handle Philip De Fries. A former Cleveland State University wrestler, Miocic outpointed Carlos Beltran in his first Octagon appearance. De Fries, who earned a decision over Rob Broughton in his UFC debut, has finished seven of his eight career victories via submission.
• T.J. Dillashaw fell to John Dodson at “The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale” in December, but that has not prevented 85 percent of players from giving him the nod over Walel Watson in a bantamweight match. Prior to his loss to “The Magician,” the Team Alpha Male product was unbeaten in four professional bouts. Watson, meanwhile, dropped a split decision to Yves Jabouin at UFC 140 in his most recent bout.