UFC 158: What's Next for Jake Ellenberger

Matt JuulContributor IIIMarch 17, 2013

Mar 16, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN;  Jake Ellenberger (red) celebrates after defeating Nate Marquardt (blue) in their main card bout at UFC 158 at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Rising welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger made an emphatic statement with his Knockout of the Night winning performance over former Strikeforce champ Nate Marquardt on Saturday night.

The impressive first-round finish over one of MMA's elite 170ers has catapulted Ellenberger up the UFC's welterweight rankings, making him just a few more wins away from a possible run for the title.

"The Juggernaut" needs to keep facing the cream of the crop if he wants to take a serious shot at the belt.

One name that comes to mind for his next opponent is Tarec Saffiedine, Strikeforce's final welterweight champion and new addition to the UFC's roster.

Saffiedine has excellent striking skills and likes to stand and trade. Stylistically, this is a great test for Ellenberger, who's heavy hands might make the difference in this potential matchup.

A win over the likes of Saffiedine would add another big name to "The Juggernaut's" growing resume and would set him up perfectly for a run at the belt.

Another name I'd like to see Ellenberger face is former interim champ Carlos Condit.

Ellenberger actually lost to Condit in his UFC debut, ending up on the wrong side of a split decision.

While "The Natural Born Killer" has dropped two in a row, his fight against Johny Hendricks on Saturday night was a sure fire Fight of the Year candidate, so I doubt Condit's stock will go down that much.

The former interim champ is still very much in the mix, so if Ellenberger can avenge his loss, there would be no denying his status among the welterweight's elite.

Plus, a rematch between these two finishers would make for a fantastic battle.

As long as Ellenberger can keep beating the best the division has to offer, there's no reason why he couldn't make a run for Georges St-Pierre's crown.

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