- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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And no, he’s not concerned about slowing down in them.
If there is any potential flaw in Ellenberger’s game to throw under the microscope this week, it’s that he clearly lost the final frames in two of the most crucial fights of his UFC career.
Diego Sanchez nearly rallied to a comeback submission against Ellenberger in February. In 2009, Ellenberger lost his UFC debut to Carlos Condit by decision after visibly tiring in the third round (though it should be noted he took that fight on short notice).
Is this a blatant hole in Ellenberger’s game? No, it’s not. But a slight concern, given that a majority of his fights from here on out will potentially be five rounds? Definitely.
“The thing about that [Sanchez] fight is he got me in a bad situation,” Ellenberger said. “He’s a phenomenal fighter. He’s a phenomenal grappler. My shape felt good. I got out of the position. I feel like I could have gone five if I had to.”
Ellenberger (27-5) says one thing he won’t do to make sure his gas tank keeps up is change the way he fights. Known as a power puncher who sets an early pace, Ellenberger isn’t willing to trade early finishes for longer stamina.
“There’s a difference between getting tired and gassing,” Ellenberger said. “If you’re gassing, your conditioning is wrong. If you’re getting tired, you’re working and trying to finish the fight.
“I’m always trying to finish the fight. It’s going to take a lot of work to finish a fight.”
With 170-pound champion Georges St. Pierre on the sidelines due to injury, it’s unclear whether a win Friday would propel Ellenberger to another five-round opportunity in the form of a UFC title shot.
St. Pierre is expected to face Condit, the current interim titleholder, upon his return. While Ellenberger isn’t demanding a title shot this week, Kampmann (19-5) believes it’s pretty clear where the winner of this fight stacks up.
“I think this should be a No. 1 contender fight,” Kampmann said. “I’ve fought some of the best guys in the division and Jake has been on a tear as well. It’s all up in the air with the GSP injury and Condit having the interim title.
“It all depends on when GSP is going to be back fighting again. If he’s going to be out a lot longer, maybe Condit should fight. There are a lot of 'ifs' and 'buts.'”
If the decision comes to Ellenberger, all he knows is that waiting doesn’t appeal to him. Let’s go five rounds this week and another five whenever the UFC is ready.
“I’ve never been one to want to wait, especially when I’m doing well,” Ellenberger said.
“The whole reason I’m in this sport is to become world champion. Getting that fight is ideal, but at the same time I don’t want to sit out six months or a year.”