Joe Ellenberger inks four-fight deal with UFC

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Joe Ellenberger -- the twin brother of UFC welterweight Jake Ellenberger -- has signed a four-fight deal with the UFC. Or rather, he has finally signed a deal to fight with the UFC, realizing a long held dream that for a long while never felt attainable.

The 28-year old Nebraska native Ellenberger (14-1) was diagnosed with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) -- a rare disease that destroys red blood cells -- in 2009, right after he'd ran his professional fight record to 10-0. Doctors told him at the time not only that he'd never fight again, but that chances are he wouldn't live to see the age of 30.

That was before he visited a blood disorder specialist who prescribed him a very expensive drug called Soliris -- running over $400,000 annually to take -- which has worked wonders for the lightweight prospect. Since the diagnosis in 2009, Ellenberger has recovered enough to return to fighting. In 2011 he resumed his career, and since then he's gone 4-1, including back-to-back victories heading into the UFC. His last win came in the Victory Fighting Championship 38 against Joe Wilk, via first round TKO, in 2012.

Ellenberger -- who broke the news of his signing on Twitter -- was a high school wrestling champion in Nebraska, and went on to become a two-time Division II All-American at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Joe Ellenberger joins his brother Jake Ellenberger to become the latest siblings to fight together in the UFC. This past October, Sergio Pettis -- the younger brother of lightweight champion Anthony Pettis -- signed a deal with the UFC. The younger Pettis won his Octagon debut against Will Campuzano at UFC 167. Jake Ellenberger has had a very successful run as a welterweight in the UFC, going 8-3 since 2009.

Though nothing is confirmed, Jake Ellenberger told MMA Fighting he thought his brother would debut in March or April.

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