Jake Ellenberger is a top welterweight and the next opponent for the eventual winner of Carlos Condit and Georges St-Pierre.
He proved tonight that he is just too talented to be anything else than a No. 1 contender, and that he should be mentioned with the rest of the sport's elite.
While the fight stayed on its feet most of the time, even when it went to the floor, Ellenberger was in charge. From raining blows down on Sanchez's head to staying on top and winning ground control, he excelled.
The only scare was in the third round when Sanchez had him on the ground and was pummeling him with punches. Ellenberger showed the one thing that fans look for in a contender.
He showed determination.
He didn't finish the round while in a negative situation and just let the clock run out. He pushed hard to regain his control and finish strong.
Making a mistake may cost him against fighters like Condit, who Ellenberger already has a split decision loss from, or Georges St-Pierre. The ability to come back from those mistakes and stay calm is what makes him a worthy challenger and a good matchup.
Ellenberger didn't just prove himself to be a great mixed martial artist.
He proved that he is on the top of the division and punched his card to the main events and top billings that have eluded him thus far.
He did it by putting on an exciting fight and showing that every aspect of his game is honed and ready. While it will need some sharpening to stay ready for the unified welterweight champion, whoever that might be, he has sent a message to fans and future opponents.
Don't overlook him or you'll regret it.
Matthew Hemphill writes for the MMA and professional wrestling portion of Bleacher Report. He also hosts a blog elbaexiled.blogspot.com that focuses on books, music, comic books, video games, film and generally anything that could be related to the realms of nerdom.
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