Admitting he was going through a lot of emotions, Jake Ellenberger, having announced his retirement at UFC Lincoln following a loss to Bryan Barberena, said post-fight that he likely would not have made the call had he won.
Lincoln, NB — There was a time when UFC Lincoln’s Jake Ellenberger was considered a real threat in the welterweight division. A potential title challenger, in the days when Georges St. Pierre lorded over the division, seemingly infallible. A six fight win streak from 2010 to 2012 saw ‘The Juggernaut’ talked about as a possible foil for GSP. Yet he was never quite able to make the step up to the next level.
A brief setback came in a loss to Martin Kampmann. Ellenberger bounced back, stringing together a pair of wins over Jay Hieron and Nate Marquardt. Then, against the division’s elite, he dropped fights to Rory MacDonald, Robbie Lawler, Kelvin Gastelum, Stephen Thompson, and others. GSP left the division, and the sport, for years.
Despite being just thirty-three years old heading into UFC Fight Night 135 in Lincoln, NB, Ellenberger had plenty pf mileage on him. So it was no surprise that after suffering a tough TKO stoppage against Bryan Barberena on Saturday that Jake Ellenberger announced his retirement. The Nebraska native was at home, more or less. The timing seemed right.
He spoke about the decision after the fight with the media, saying that the call was an emotional one. That said, time with his kids “encouraged that decision. It’s the toughest sport in the world, things don’t always go your way. It came a little shorter than I would have liked it to have. But that’s what it is right now. I’m just in the process of moving forward, and grateful for all the opportunities.”
Ellenberger admitted that he likely would not have retired had he won against Barberena. There’d been no plan to retire either way. “Not really, to be honest,” he said of the possibility. “I had a lot of progress and progression in the last six or eight months. So not really, to be honest, I really didn’t.”
“He caught me. It’s one of those things, you’ve just got to keep moving forward,” he summed up the fight.
Looking back, Ellenberger picked a handful of top memories from his time in the sport. “When I fought Marquardt in Montreal was one of my favorites. [Jake] Shields, that was the main event down in New Orleans, that was another,” he recalled. “There’s a few. The Omaha main event, 2012, against Diego Sanchez, that will forever be one of my favorite moments.”
“There’s a lot, but I feel like, just the relationships with people I’ve made along the way, it’s really what I’m proud of,” Ellenberger said. “The UFC’s always been great to me, everyone on the staff, like I said, it’s been a privilege and an honor.”
On the possibility of him returning somewhere down the line, “I don’t know. There’s a lot going on right now. For now, no.”
Moving forward, however, he would like to stay involved with MMA. He alluded to opportunities that might allow for that. “Potentially, potentially yeah. I can’t really talk about it yet, but I would love to stay in this sport, stay involved. There is the potential for that.”
Ellenberger finishes his career at 31-15, with wins over Diego Sanchez, Matt Brown, Nate Marquardt, Jake Shields, John Howard, and many others.