It's safe to say Tuesday night was an unhappy time around the home of UFC welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger.
At home, hanging out with his girlfriend after a day of training, he noticed his phone was buzzing more than usual, and in the span of just a few minutes he had upward of 30 text messages awaiting him. Ellenberger immediately knew something was going on with his fight against Johny Hendricks at UFC 158 because good news rarely travels so fast.
What Ellenberger found out a few seconds later stunned him.
It was true, he was no longer fighting Johny Hendricks in March, but that had nothing to do with his opponent suffering a training injury. No, it was actually Rory MacDonald who was injured, and Johny Hendricks took that opportunity to call UFC President Dana White and ask to face Carlos Condit on the card instead of Jake Ellenberger.
Hendricks explained when speaking to Bleacher Report on Wednesday that Condit was the more enticing challenge because he was fresh off a title fight and had held the interim belt for nine months, while Ellenberger was "just another fight" to hold his position in the welterweight title race.
Needless to say, Jake Ellenberger was none too happy with that statement.
"I'm offended that Johny Hendricks called Dana to ask him to fight Condit. I'm going to choose my words carefully here, but I think that he wanted a less dangerous fight in my opinion," Ellenberger told Bleacher Report late on Wednesday evening. "We're going to fight because I know I can beat him, and I have him figured out. It offends me that he did that."
Ellenberger is well aware how the fight game works. Just like chess it's really about maneuvering pieces around the board and then striking at the exact right time. In this case, however, Ellenberger believes that Hendricks just had no desire to face him because he knew he was going to get beat.
"I know how the game works and I know how he's trying to position the way people are looking at the scenario. He didn't want to fight me and that's a fact," said Ellenberger. "So however he wants to word it, Carlos is a great fighter, one of the best in the division, I don't disagree there, but I would still say and he would probably say the same thing that it's a less dangerous fight. Is Carlos going to knock him out? I don't think so."
Johny Hendricks has charged through the welterweight division over the last year and a half picking up wins over notable names like Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck and Martin Kampmann. Looking at Hendricks' record, Ellenberger takes nothing away from the opponents that Hendricks has faced but still believes he's skating by on thin ice.
"Johny's kind of had the perfect storm. He's put together a lot of wins over great fighters, he's won some really close fights as well that could have gone either way. I heard Joe Silva tell Mike Pierce he got screwed (when he fought Hendricks), I've heard things like that and things that I've seen. He's had the perfect storm and he's in position to fight for the title," said Ellenberger.
Jake Ellenberger @EllenbergerMMA
I knew you'd find a way out @JohnyHendricks2/19/2013, 4:24:51 AM
"My argument is when you're the No. 1 contender, and I don't argue that he's the No. 1 contender, and it's the same with the champion—you don't get to choose who you fight. You're the champion or the No. 1 contender, you're going to fight whoever they tell you to fight because you're allegedly the best in the world. That was Johny's way out of fighting me was (fighting) Carlos Condit."
Ellenberger doesn't want to go as far as saying this grudge with Hendricks is now somehow personal, but he's definitely angry at the way everything unfolded. There's some unfinished business, and Ellenberger doesn't plan on allowing it to stay unfinished forever.
"It's not over with Johny. We're going to meet at some point. I don't think he should be able to choose who he fights," Ellenberger stated. "That was his way out, he found a way out."
Damon Martin is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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