The spotlight was burning white hot Saturday night when Jake Ellenberger (pictured) took center stage against fellow up-and-coming welterweight Rory MacDonald. Unfortunately for Ellenberger, UFC president Dana White claims he froze under pressure in an uneventful unanimous decision defeat to his bitter rival.
“There’s no doubt,” White deadpanned after the post-fight press conference. “Pressure is definitely a big part of it, but you’re either that guy or you’re not that guy. Part of being in professional sports and being the best in the world is being able to deal with pressure. And when you get in that Octagon, that’s where the least pressure is. The real pressure, when you make it, is outside the Octagon. If you can’t handle that, good luck with the rest of it.”
Although Ellenberger and MacDonald met in UFC on FOX 8‘s co-main event, nearly everyone inside Key Arena in Seattle was most amped to see their scrap on the card. When the 170-pounders didn’t deliver the goods, the ticket payers weren’t shy with pelting the fighters with boos – throughout their entire 15-minute affair.
The fans weren’t the only ones to voice their displeasure. White quickly took to Twitter after their bout and admitted the expected barn-burner turned out to be a barn-bummer. UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta also shared his disappointment with White.
“Literally, Lorenzo texted me and said, ‘This is terrible.’ I texted him back and said, ‘Ellenberger is freezing.’ He froze tonight. He did. I don’t know why, but he did,” White said.
“He’s been in big fights [before]. His last fight was a big fight for him against [Nate] Marquardt.”
Was performing on primetime television too much for Ellenberger to handle? Was the potential title shot that dangled in front of him too overwhelming? Either way, “The Juggernaut” was the first to admit he wasn’t at his best, for whatever reason.
“I’m really disappointed in myself,” Ellenberger candidly revealed. “It wasn’t my night. I didn’t pull the trigger. I’ll leave it at that.”