Jake Ellenberger didn’t come out swinging in his win over Jay Hieron at UFC on FX 5 because he figured that was exactly what Hieron expected him to do.
“Me and Jay, we’ve fought before and I’ve actually trained at Xtreme Couture quite a bit,” Ellenberger told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “They’re all very familiar with me. I feel they were expecting me to come in hard and a little bit reckless like I did with [Martin] Kampmann. I knew I had to be a little smarter and not expose myself as much as I did in my last fight.”
In that June bout against Kampmann, who is a teammate of Hieron’s at Xtreme Couture, Ellenberger hurt his opponent in the opening round but ate a big knee and was stopped in the second. The defeat made an impact on Ellenberger.
“I kind of realized how important having a tight defense is,” he said. “When you’re really offensive, like I normally am, at the same time it leaves you vulnerable. You’re exposed. That’s when you’re most vulnerable for getting caught or a submission. I had to stay smart. I didn’t want to just go beefcake-meathead style like usual and potentially get caught or something crazy.”
The strategy worked, as Ellenberger earned a unanimous decision (29-28 on all three cards). In victory, he avenged a June 2006 loss to Hieron, which was nice but not really one of his main motivating factors.
“When I lost to Jay, I was young,” Ellenberger said. “To be honest, that wasn’t the hardest thing to swallow -- it was when I lost to Kampmann. [The Kampmann loss] really didn’t sit well with me because I know my potential. I know I can beat him. Just the way it ended -- it was really, really unsettling for me. It kind of makes you realize how hungry, how much you really want something.”
Ellenberger had won six in a row before losing to Kampmann. Now he’s started what could be another win streak, and he’s hoping with another two or three victories, he’ll be back in the title hunt. Until then, there’s no doubt in his mind whom he would like to fight next.
“It would be Martin Kampmann,” Ellenberger said. “No question.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 13:09).