Jake Ellenberger's homecoming was probably a bit more harrowing than he'd have liked, but every win counts in the UFC's suddenly bustling welterweight division.
The 26-year-old slugger withstood a furious final-minute rally from Diego Sanchez in the main event of UFC on FUEL, earning his sixth straight victory and vaulting his name into title contention inside his hometown of Omaha, Neb. Video highlights of Ellenberger's triumph can be seen below.
For more on Wednesday night's key welterweight tilt, follow the play-by-play from MMA Fighting's own Mike Chiappetta.
Round 1: Ellenberger throwing fire early, nothing but power strikes. Sanchez respects it, as his usual breakneck pace is nowhere to be seen. Sanchez comes forward with a 1-2 combo. Ellenberger with a body kick as Sanchez looks for an opening. A pawing right by Sanchez grazes its target. Ellenberger lands a knee. Sanchez checks for blood but he's OK. Ellenberger with a left hook. Ellenberger initiates the clinch, lands a knee to the body. He looks for a takedown but is denied. The two exchange punches and back away. Ellenberger drops Sanchez with a counter right hand. Sanchez closes the distance. Ellenberger breaks free. He buckles Sanchez with a right on the jaw in the final seconds. It's 10-9 for Ellenberger.
Round 2: Sanchez misses with a spinning kick. Ellenberger with a head kick. Sanchez partially deflects it. Ellenberger briefly switches stance and lands a straight left. Sanchez starting to show some frustration as each time he moves forward, he misses and Ellenberger is in perfect position to fire back something with evil intentions. Sanchez clips Ellenberger with a right hook with 2 minutes left, maybe his best punch of the fight. Ellenberger ducks under a Sanchez hook and takes him down. Huge elbows from Ellenberger late in the round as he looks for the finish. Sanchez's face is bloodied and bruised but he makes it to the horn. Ellenberger 10-9.
Round 3: Ellenberger snaps Sanchez's head back with a left jab. He staggers Sanchez again. Sanchez comes forward and lands a hook. Ellenberger goes low threatening with a takedown but lets it go and instead fires a knee to the body. Sanchez lands a left hand and Ellenberger's bloodied now. Sanchez suddenly starting to find his range, but Ellenberger takes him down. Sanchez reverses and ends up on Ellenberger's back. Sanchez bursts with energy trying for the finish. He's throwing everything he can. Ellenberger escapes in the final moments and the two trade shots to close the round. A great comeback try for Sanchez but he'd need a 10-8 to win and it's probably only deserving of a 10-9.
UFC on FUEL results: Jake Ellenberger def. Diego Sanchez via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).