With Jake Ellenberger squaring off against Carlos Eduardo Rocha on the PPV main card of UFC 126, I thought we might get to witness the emergence of a new contender.
I was wrong.
Ellenberger won by split decision in a match that saw two future contenders struggle to maintain their competitive advantage.
Eduardo Rocha had a clear advantage on the ground and that advantage was most evident during a first round that saw the two combatants tangle fiercely. The pace slowed significantly in the next two rounds.
Ellenberger controlled the stand-up ever so slightly and only cinched the second and third rounds with takedowns that happened to land him in precarious situations.
While he was thought to have a distinct advantage on the feet, Ellenberger had trouble hitting his mark, and Eduardo Rocha exchanged gamely, especially threatening with kicking techniques from range.
Both fighters showed a ton of promise. Both men are very real threats to any contenders in the welterweight division. If they want to claim a spot among the well-rounded elite of the world, however, there is still a lot of work to be done.
It is evident that if Jake Ellenberger wants to step up his game up to the next level, he is going to have to advance his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Eduardo Rocha showed that his abilities are formidable, but in order to compete at the highest levels, he will have to learn when to push the pace and how to keep the fight on his terms.