John Howard vs. Jake Ellenberger: Where Does This Fight Stand on August 1st?
After what will be a brief, month-long hiatus from the airwaves, the UFC will return to prime-time action with its second venture onto the Versus Network, which is set to take place on August 1st in San Diego, California.
The headlining fight of the "UFC on Versus 2" event is the return of the young, unorthodox phenom fighter, Jon "Bones" Jones, as he takes on the crafty veteran and always dangerous ground striker, Vladimir Matyushenko.
The night also features other key divisional matchups, as Mark Munoz looks to continue his impressive middleweight performances against a UFC dark horse in Yushin Okami.
Also on the card, in the opening bout, is an important lightweight battle between Tyson Griffin and Takanori Gomi, with both fighters in desperate need of a victory to keep pace in an ever-evolving division.
Sandwiched in between these key fights is an overlooked bout between two welterweight workhorses.
Two fighters that always bring that "do-or-die" mentality into the cage with them.
Two warriors that won't fold after struggling to execute their desired gameplan.
Both John Howard (14-4) and Jake Ellenberger (22-5) not only look to bring in their all to get the win, but to also do it impressively to elevate their notoriety enough to get them a chance to test their skills against the elite of the division.
While Ellenberger is only 1-1 inside the UFC promotion, he should not be overlooked in any way. His only UFC loss came by way of a somewhat controversial split-decision against the last reigning WEC welterweight champion, Carlos Condit.
Before that, Ellenberger was riding a four-fight win streak, during which he smothered his opponents with constant pressure and heavy hands.
With a strong foundation in wrestling, Ellenberger has been able to work on the other aspects of his game, which has garnered tremendous improvements in his stand-up attack.
Don't get it twisted, though. Ellenberger is far from being a technically sound striker, but the raw power that he brings with his ability to take a punch could possibly outshine his nasty ground attack in this fight.
The key word in that last paragraph is "possibly."
After all, Ellenberger is stepping into the octagon against someone who is on quite a hot streak. Howard is undefeated in his last seven bouts, with four of those coming inside the UFC's walls.
While he's been on a tear with his apocalyptic right hand, Howard is well-versed in all of MMA, including the grappling aspect of it. This is a good thing, considering he's about to square off against a high-pace wrestler.
But just because Howard has some Jiu Jitsu tricks up his sleeve doesn't mean he should be content with battling Ellenberger on the ground.
Over the last two years, Howard's striking has improved dramatically, and he is far more technical in his strikes than Ellenberger and the hay-maker style he brings.
The gameplan for each fighter is the same with a few variations involved, but they both end along the lines of punishment from ground strikes.
Ellenberger is going to want to get the fight to the ground as soon as possible.
He shouldn't get sloppy in setting up his takedowns, but at the same time, Ellenberger should keep himself out of a striking war with Howard. His striking style likely won't work against the cleaner punches that Howard will bring.
If Ellenberger gets the takedown, he needs to do what got him to the big show, and that is to smother Howard with continuous pressure and non-stop shots to unguarded areas.
On his back, Howard has shown that he struggles against a never-ending attack, especially into the later rounds when his energy levels start to drop.
Howard, on the other hand, will want to employ a sprawl-and-counter type of strategy to keep the fight standing.
While it's not a lock, Howard has the advantage on the feet with cleaner, more accurate strikes. If he can time the takedowns of Ellenberger and counter on the exit, Howard could really sap a lot of energy away from his opponent.
If Howard is able to avoid the takedowns, he should be able to pick apart the willing, yet fading, Ellenberger throughout the fight, or until he clips him with his powerful right hand that would be followed up with a barrage of ground strikes.
Both fighters bring the pain.
Both give it their all, every time.
Both are equally skilled in different aspects of the game.
On a night of one-sided matchups, on paper that is, John Howard vs. Jake Ellenberger appears to be a lock for the Fight of the Night bonus.
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