Late injury to opponent scratches Joe Ellenberger’s debut at UFC 172

Have gloves, will fight.

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Joe Ellenberger’s pro fight career was once delayed by a rare blood disease. Now, on the cusp of fulfilling his UFC dream, he’ll have to wait again. The 29-year-old Nebraskan saw his UFC 172 become a dreaded fight week scratch after opponent Vagner Rocha suffered an injury while at the event site in Baltimore.

The UFC announced the news on Wednesday.

Ellenberger was originally supposed to face Yancy Medeiros until a late shakeup changed the card. Medeiros was moved into a fight with Jim Miller when Bobby Green withdrew due to injury. That allowed Rocha into the bout on short-notice until the unfortunate incident.

Joe Ellenberger, the brother of UFC welterweight contender Jake, is 14-1 in his career despite a two-year absence while addressing the blood disease Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. With the condition in check, Ellenberger resumed his career and was signed by the UFC earlier this year.

There remains a slim chance that he competes at the event, as he will cut weight and be available as an alternate should any lightweight be removed from the show. For his troubles, he’ll earn his show money.

Nevertheless, the cancellation of the Elllenberger-Rocha bout leaves the UFC 172 card with 10 fights, headlined by a light-heavyweight championship match between Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira. Ironically, Jake Ellenberger was also originally scheduled to compete on UFC 172 until opponent Tarec Saffiedine withdrew due to injury.