It was like déjà vu all over again for Jake Ellenberger (pictured) at UFC 173.
Standing across the cage from him was a fellow elite welterweight in Robbie Lawler, just like in July when Rory MacDonald was his opponent. A golden opportunity was at Ellenberger’s fingertips, with the spotlight burning bright as the MMA world watched in anticipated, and just like against MacDonald, Ellenberger allowed to moment to engulf him.
And once again, UFC president Dana White was there to highlight Ellenberger’s inability to perform under pressure.
“No, it’s not the game plan,” White said of Ellenberger’s failure to seize the moment. “Listen, there’s guys who pull the trigger when it’s time to step up and there’s guys who don’t pull the trigger. This is two times when he was in the spotlight and had big opportunities that he didn’t pull the trigger.
“The one thing for me is, like I always say, you can come out and it’s not your day – I know there’s guys that come out and feel they can’t get off, their timing isn’t there, whatever it might be – but when you’re in a big fight like that and you’re down two rounds, you come out in that third round and you try to win. And he didn’t do that. He didn’t do it in the MacDonald fight, either. So, he’s got a lot of work to do.”
After his unanimous decision defeat to MacDonald, White made similar comments by saying Ellenberger “froze” under the pressure. He wasn’t able to go the distance Saturday, as Lawler ended things via TKO in the third.
Ellenberger is still just 29, and there’s no question he’s one of the world’s best welterweights, but now it’s time for “The Juggernaut” to discover how to blast off when the heat is on.