It's taken a little bit of personal resolve from Jake Ellenberger to move past the fact that he's not facing Johny Hendricks this weekend at UFC 158.
The two welterweight contenders were matched up for the upcoming show in Montreal until just a few weeks ago, when Canadian contender Rory MacDonald suffered a training injury that forced him out of his fight against Carlos Condit.
With an opening to face the last UFC interim welterweight champion, Hendricks jumped at the chance and made the call to face Condit at UFC 158.
Needless to say, Ellenberger was not happy about that choice, but now he's got a new opponent in Nate Marquardt, and there's no need to dwell about the past. Ellenberger knows at some point he will cross paths with Hendricks, it just won't be this weekend.
"It was definitely frustrating. I'm still looking forward to getting in there with Johny (Hendricks). That's the fight I want. I'm not wasting my time in the sport either, this is my 37th fight I think, and I want to fight the top guys," Ellenberger stated when speaking to the media on Wednesday.
"Eventually, I'm sure Johny and I will meet. This week is just focusing on Nate."
Going into the fight with Hendricks, it's likely that Ellenberger would have entered as a slight underdog given the current rankings in the UFC. Now Ellenberger will step into the cage on Saturday as a favorite against former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt, who returns to the UFC after a tough loss to Tarec Saffiedine in his last fight.
Regardless of his record, Ellenberger knows just how good Marquardt can be, so looking past him would be a monumental mistake.
"Nate's not an easy fight for anybody," Ellenberger said. "That was the first name they gave me when (Johny) Hendricks got moved so I said okay. I've never turned down a fight. I feel like if I can beat anybody in the world, I've got to prove it."
That's the point Ellenberger is out to prove—that he can go with anybody in the world and beat them. Whether it's Johny Hendricks, Nate Marquardt or somebody else, Ellenberger is on a mission to get to the top of the division, and he knows to do that, he has to beat everybody put on front of him.
"I don't know if I'm the best guy in the world right now, but I know I can beat anybody in the world," said Ellenberger. "That's all I need to know."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted
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