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Jake Ellenberger coulda been a contender

Sports Illustrated’s Loretta Hunt is one of the best journos on the MMA beat, but she’s off her rocker for suggesting Jake Ellenberger deserves a crack at Carlos Condit’s interim welterweight belt after his unconvincing win over Diego Sanchez on Wednesday. (I also don’t think Condit should sit on the bench for nine months waiting for Georges St. Pierre.)

Not that Ellenberger looked horrible in victory. His striking was crisp, his counters accurate, his takedowns effective as he held off a game-but-outmatched Sanchez for two-and-a-half rounds. Then, in the final 90 seconds, Sanchez took advantage of an Ellenberger slip and pounded away from mount while referee Dan Miragliotta hovered. In fact, no one — no one except Ellenberger and his hometown Omaha crowd — would have complained if Miragiotta had stepped in, given Ellenberger was covering up and counting on the clock to save him.

Would Sanchez have won if it had been a five-round fight, as UFC boss Dana White admits should have been the case? Hard to say. The momentum had clearly shifted, however, taking much of the shine off of Ellenberger’s performance. A rematch with Condit would make for great pre-fight drama, but it hasn’t been earned. Ellenberger should have to face the winner of Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks or perhaps Martin Kampmann vs. Thiago Alves.

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