SAN JOSE, Calif. — A sharply-dressed Jake Ellenberger showed up to last weekend’s UFC on Fox 7 event with one thing on his mind: Adding a gold belt to his wardrobe.
The welterweight said he’s been told that a shot at the 170-pound title awaits the winner of his match with Rory MacDonald at UFC on Fox 8.
“I’ve been told that,” Ellenberger recently said to GRACIEMAG.com. “I’ve been told that this will be for the No. 1 contender, but it’s not in writing so you’re never 100 percent sure. Verbally, I’ve been told that the winner of this fight will be the No. 1 contender. But you know we’re still kind of in the cloud to see what happens with Hendricks and GSP.”
UFC officials subsequently informed GRACIEMAG.com that Hendricks is ranked No. 1 in the official UFC rankings, and no decisions have been made in terms of future contender fights.
While he’s been told that the fight with MacDonald, a teammate of welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre’s, will lead to a title opportunity, Ellenberger said he’s not any more stressed about it than his other fights. It makes no difference, according to the 170-pound contender.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re fighting on the first fight of the prelim or the main event, you still have to deal with the same things,” Ellenberger said. “You’re still walking out there and you’re still fighting in front of the crowd. It’s more how you deal with that, mentally.”
The fighter added that’s he’s already dealing with doubters that have come forward and picked MacDonald to win. Asked if it gets under his skin, Ellenberger quickly replied, “Not at all,” and he likes being the guy that everyone else is picking as the underdog.
“I love it. He’s got a lot of hype around him,” Ellenberger said of his UFC on Fox 8 opponent. “I think the best comes out when people (say) ‘Oh, Rory’s going to run through you.’ I like being in that position.”
UFC President Dana White said today, Thursday, that Hendricks will indeed be next in line for St-Pierre. And although GSP might not be into the idea of fighting Hendricks, the UFC executive said his champ better be ready soon, and it’s looking like he has until August to change his tune.
“He’s going to have to get his head into it,” White told MMAjunkie.com at a press event in New York, while promoting Saturday’s UFC 159 Pay-Per-View. “That’s who he’s going to fight next.”
But while GSP floats in limbo between defending his title against Hendricks and a highly-anticipated superfight with middleweight champ Anderson Silva, Ellenberger is keeping his eyes on the prize. And he’s doing it with the intention of looking like a champ.
“I’m the next welterweight champ,” Ellenberger said when asked why he chose to don dress slacks and a pressed shirt. “I gotta look good, gotta look fresh.”