Fighting in his hometown of Omaha, Neb., Ellenberger emerged victorious from a bloody, knockdown, drag-out fight with Diego Sanchez, winning by close unanimous decision in the co-main event at UFC on FUEL TV 1 on Wednesday night.
Ellenberger fought off a big push by Sanchez late in the third and final round to hold on to the win he earned with big strikes earlier in the fight. Both fighters used every ounce of energy they had, but Ellenberger had just enough.
With the win, Ellenberger moved closer to a shot at the UFC welterweight title. He’ll need to wait out the bout between interim champion Carlos Condit and the injured Georges St. Pierre, but when the dust settles in the division, Ellenberger should find himself among the top contenders.
In the co-main event, 6-foot-11 heavyweight contender Stefan Struve scored a second-round TKO win over Dave Herman. After a tentative first round, Struve came on strong in the second. He got his opponent in big-time trouble with a beautiful combination, ending it with a devastating uppercut that sent Herman backward to the canvas. Struve then jumped on top of Herman and finished him off with some ground and pound until the referee ended the bout.
Struve improved to 23-5 in his career and moved closer to a shot at the heavyweight title. Herman fell to 21-3 after just his second UFC bout.
Middleweights Aaron Simpson and Ronny Markes engaged in a back-and-forth battle, with each fighter enjoying moments in control of the fight. In the end, Markes walked away with a split-decision win.
Stipe Miocic needed just 43 seconds to dispose of Philip De Fries by TKO in a battle of previously undefeated heavyweights. Miocic improved to 8-0, while De Fries fell to 8-1 (with one no-contest).
T.J. Dillashaw won with a dominant decision over Walel Watson in a bantamweight bout. Watson was able to fight off several submission attempts to go the distance, but he didn’t pose much of a threat to Dillashaw.
Ivan Menjivar opened the main card with an exciting first-round submission win over John Albert in a bantamweight bout. Both fighters had a chance to get the submission multiple times, but in the end Menjivar was able to get Albert to tap out with a rear naked choke.
Jonathan Brookins made quick work of Vagner Rocha in a featherweight bout. Brookins took control early and knocked Rocha out at just 1:32 of the first round with some big shots to the head while Rocha was on his back.
Finnish lightweight Anton Kuivanen, who came into his UFC debut riding a nine-fight winning streak, lost by decision to Justin Salas.
And in the first bout of the preliminary card, Tim Means, in his UFC debut, beat Bernardo Magalhaes by unanimous decision in a lightweight bout. It was the eighth straight win for Means.
One fight scheduled for the preliminary card was scratched. The middleweight bout between Buddy Roberts and Sean Loeffler had to be canceled after Loeffler injured his ankle during warmups.