It wasn't great, but Jake Ellenberger did what he needed to get back in the win column.
Jake Ellenberger is back to his winning ways, but his fight against Jay Hieron wasn't the barn burner that we've come to expect from "The Juggernaut" lately.
Still, you can't knock him for the tepid victory.
An opponent like Hieron should give Ellenberger a small boost in the welterweight rankings, especially since he's now avenged his first professional loss. Plus, as the old adage goes, it takes two to tango and Hieron wasn't dancing.
Instead of focusing on the negatives, what were the keys to Ellenberger's victory at UFC on FX 5, and how did he put everything together? Let's break down everything he did right.
Jake Ellenberger in 2012 is vastly different from the man who lost to Jay Hieron in 2006, and he let "The Thoroughbred" know it early in the fight.
As soon as Hieron tasted a hard uppercut from Ellenberger in the first round, he stayed conservative for most of the bout. That kind of raw punching power is scary, and the 36-year-old Hieron likely tightened up his defenses to avoid getting his lights turned off.
Just that one exchange seemed to set the tone for the rest of the night, and Ellenberger wisely answered every probing attack from Hieron with an equally aggressive blow.
Ellenberger's biggest success came in the second round when he landed a stellar double-leg takedown and followed up with elbows inside Hieron's guard.
Opening up a cut on Hieron, Ellenberger caused some damage, which started to build early in the round with a few minutes left, and his advantage in the wrestling department was pretty clear.
Hieron deserves some credit for trying a similar tactic, but Ellenberger's takedown defense in the first round was terrific as he hopped on one leg, separated and made Hieron eat a few punches on the way out of the single-leg attempt.
Jake Ellenberger is a fantastic first-round finisher because he can throw everything into a flurry when he smells blood in the water.
Unfortunately, that led to his demise against Martin Kampmann, a fighter with a good enough chin to ride out the storm and fire back.
Jay Hieron hasn't lost by knockout in five years, so in hindsight, it was probably wise of Ellenberger to hold back and pick his shots instead of swarming Hieron on the feet. Moreover, his takedown attempts increased later into the fight, which really made a difference in the later two rounds.
By using his wrestling to control most of the fight, Ellenberger left himself enough gas to turn things up on the feet every time Hieron tried to get something started.
Although the crowd may not have liked it, Ellenberger stayed dominant in each area of the game without putting himself at risk—Decision Fighting 101.