Both Jake Ellenberger and Josh Koscheck know their way around the octagon.
Ellenberger has been a UFC competitor since 2009, while Koscheck made his first appearance within the promotion in 2005 — his third fight — and hadn’t really been made to look back until 2013.
Many expected the Fresno, California fighter to take his first plunge from the octagon since his entrance through “The Ultimate Fighter” series. He has lost three in a row, albeit to top opposition in Robbie Lawler, Johnny Hendricks, and Tyron Woodley. All three would soon break the top five in the official UFC rankings, while Hendricks and Lawler were future Welterweight champions.
It has been a crude skid for the 37-year-old, and one that he would soon like to forget.
Having not fought in 27-months, Koscheck will meet Jake Ellenberger, a man also agonized by the UFC’s matchmaking.
Ellenberger was stopped in three rounds by common-opponent Robbie Lawler in May of 2014. That loss was stacked between defeats to Rory MacDonald and Kevin Gastelum — men both currently riding their winning ways into the title picture.
Having fought twice in 2014, Ellenberger hadn’t need to shake any rust off against Koscheck. He will be the younger leg of the match-up by eight years and that gives him some foreseeable advantage, but not one to get carried away about.
Ellenberger has eighteen career UFC knockouts, but has proven vulnerable to counters and cannot suffice when put on his back. Koscheck’s experience should lean this in his favor should this becoming a scrappy affair, but he himself was dispatched in one round in his last two UFC contests and hasn’t won a fight since May 2012. That’s an awfully long time to wait without your hand raised. Will it offer him some added motivation, or dread as he faces the Nebraskan Ellenberger?
Any further interlude between wins for either man could see him out of the UFC. In the case of Koscheck, such a move may very well be the last of his MMA career.
That may increase the former title challenger’s desire for a win, or simply be too much pressure to return from. His mindset heading into this fight will be key, even if he has seen it all before over the 22-fight span he has spent in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Sticking with a call which offered good fortune in last week’s Frank Mir Vs. Antonio Silva headliner, I’ll pick the more polished veteran to get the job done against someone less accomplished at the pinnacle of combat sports.
Pick: Josh Koscheck def. Jake Ellenberger via split decision