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‘UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger’ Aftermath: Big Upset in the Big Easy

Our thoughts exactly. Props: MMAMania

Coming into last night’s UFC Fight Night 25, Jake Shields was in a lose-lose situation. He was presented with an opponent, Jake Ellenberger, who was facing his first real step up in competition. A victory over him wouldn’t necessarily propel Shields back to the top of the welterweight division. If Jake Shields lost, well, Jake Shields isn’t going to lose this one so let’s not worry about it. Last night was going to be Jake Shield’s first step towards living up to the hype that surrounded him when he entered the UFC and getting back in the mix for a shot at the welterweight title. There was only one problem: That didn’t happen. In just under one minute, Jake Ellenberger practically ended the Jake Shields era.

This isn’t to say that it’s over for Jake Shields, or that he still can’t work his way back to relevance in the welterweight division. But it’s certainly over for the myth that Jake Shields is still one of the top fighters out there. Last night, Jake Shields couldn’t implement his game plan because Jake Ellenberger was able to stuff his takedown attempts. It wasn’t “What did Shields do wrong”; it was what Ellenberger did right. He was the better fighter, plain and simple. And let’s not entertain the thought of “early stoppage” any more than we had to after hearing Jake Shields imply it last night. When you take a knee directly to the chin, immediately turtle up, and then try to grapple with the referee who pulls your opponent off of you, you have no business saying that the fight was stopped early. If you didn’t think Shields was out when you first watched that fight, watch it again while you still can.

I’m really not sure what to call Court McGee’s performance last night. But I will say that the TUF 11 winner handled his eleven months away from the sport as well as possible. He stuck to his game plan against a game Dongi Yang, and managed to grind out a decision victory. McGee may not be ready for the deep end of the middleweight division yet, but he’s certainly appearing promising so far. Ed Herman is being suggested as a future opponent, and I can’t say I disagree with that. As for the other TUF winner on the card, Jonathan Brookins didn’t win, but he managed to not get knocked out against Erik Koch. Admit it: that was far more than you were expecting from him. Brookins did what he had to do to remain conscious against Koch by implementing a wall-and-stall “offense”, and secured a few takedowns in the process. An ugly way to lose, but when you’re a TUF winner, you can get away with it. Likewise, the ugly victory more than likely stalls Koch for the time being, despite the improved wrestling that he displayed by managing to avoid most of Brookins’ takedowns.

One final thing to take away from last night was Alan Belcher’s effortless return to action. Despite a sixteen month layoff that nearly ended his career, Belcher made quick work of Jason MacDonald, punching him out in the first round. Given the almost embarrassing lack of depth in the middleweight division, Belcher may find himself back in the mix with that victory. Not bad for a guy who was considering retirement before last night’s fight. As for Jason MacDonald, well, there’s always Strikeforce (for the next few months, at least).

Full results, courtesy of MMAJunkie:


Jake Ellenberger def. Jake Shields via TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 0:53
Court McGee def. Dongi Yang via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-28)
Erik Koch def. Jonathan Brookins via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-27)
Alan Belcher def. Jason MacDonald via verbal submission (punches) – Round 1, 3:48


Vagner Rocha def. Cody McKenzie via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 3:49
Evan Dunham def. Shamar Bailey via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Lance Benoist def. Matt Riddle via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Ken Stone def. Donny Walker via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:40
Seth Baczynski def. Clay Harvison via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2, 1:12
T.J. Waldburger def. Mike Stumpf via submission (triangle choke) – Round 1, 3:52
Robert Peralta def. Mike Lullo via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Justin Edwards def. Jorge Lopez via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)


Cagepotato Comments

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XENOPHON- September 20, 2011 at 10:05 am
@ RwilsonR
Don't worry Wilson...I read your post and even agree that the BJJ is having less of an impact inside MMA that it used to.
RwilsonR- September 18, 2011 at 10:54 pm
@ Get Off Me - I am in full agreement with you on judging, and I have said in the past the lack of clear and universal judging criteria and judge training is one of the biggest things holding MMA back from taking the next step forward as a sport. Also, for those of us that bet on fights, nothing is more irritating.
I also agree that they overvalue wrestling - both takedowns and top control.
That being said, I think it is important to recognize some of the changes happening in the sport, and that BJJ is becoming less and less effective in a lot of cases. Against good wrestlers who have learned to defend against submissions, and are often much more powerful in both physical strength and positioning allowing them to shrug off submissions they now see coming, I don't think some of those submissions attempts off the back should count for much, either. So where a few years ago I would have argued that unsuccessful submission attempts should count for much more by judges, it is hard for me to credit much to a fighter throwing legs up in vain hopes of landing a triangle, or grabbing a wrist trying for a kimura from the bottom. That shouldn't be worth any more than a soft takedown where the guy pops right back up.
In much the same way fighters had to learn to defend and attck with submissions over the years, fighters need to learn to cope better with defending and attacking with wrestling to keep the fight where they want it. So even though have strong opinions on the subject, I fully admit I'm not sure exactly how to define the optimal judging criteria as I think in some ways it needs to evolve to take into account the relative danger of the move being executed. Submission attempts have always been hard to judge, since they don't necessarily cause damage, and if they aren't successful it is tough to know how much weight to give them. And where previously guys would regularly fall for arm bars and triangles, simply attempting those don't seem as dangerous to the guy on top who is now expecting them then they were maybe 6 or 7 years ago when more people were pure specialists.
Ultimately, the one judging criterium that has always, and will always, remain the same is damage. For aggression and Octagon control, whether they are on the top or bottom on the ground, whoever is on the offensive and controlling the pace and forcing their opponent into defense should get the nod for these considerations.
Well that was long-winded and unnecessary. Sorry for rambling. I sound like Xeno.
Get Off Me- September 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm
They are and not consistently either. It's like judges can take a look at several factors of a fight, but base their decisions on one aspect to decide who wins a round....insane.
I was that disgusted person last night as I thought Koch would have to KO Brookins to win, it was the only place he was having success, but the first two rounds were mainly Brookins controling Koch.
Then I come back from the pisser after thinking I just lost my parlays and boom Koch is the winner.
They really need to make this sport more transparent for the fans, until this happens it will never get on the level of other major sports.
Get Off Me- September 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm
Wrestlers do rule, but when judging is so unclear it really throws a wrench into things.
Right now, wrestling is overscored, but a strong wrestler only wrestles because his opponent allows him to or cannot stop it.
I really think fighters need to have very strong TDD at the UFC level and that Zuffa should look at revising some rules in the sport to help take away the interpretation of the judges on who wins a fight.
mDino- September 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm
yeah 1 year ago they woulda gave that decision to brookins and everyone would of been disgusted by it, but i guess times are changing. they need a more definitive scoring system/rules put in place. In the end brookins was the one who showed better octagon control, and he was grappling koch like no tomorrow, but never had him in any real trouble.
Get Off Me- September 18, 2011 at 5:52 pm
I thought by scoring the fight on agression,effective striking, grappling and octagon control, Brookins won that fight. I bet on Koch so no complaints, but the scoring in this sport is fucked.
RwilsonR- September 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm
I'm not even saying some of the wrestlers I mentioned are that great of fighters, either. I'm just saying that some of these people with some of the longest current win streaks in MMA have been protected from wrestlers while building those streaks. Guys like Shields, Fitch, Diaz, and Reem would have very different records if they had. And blankets like Shields and Fitch wouldn't be able to blanket, since they aren't fantastic wrestlers to begin with. I'm just saying I think some of these folks will be exposed. And some one-dimensional wrestlers will be exposed., too, if they fight a talented striker with the strength and wrestling to keep it standing. It is just generally true that guys in the UFC have to face a greater variety if talent, so their win streaks aren't as long... with Fitch being an exception I am pointing out.
RwilsonR- September 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm
@ skeletor - I get where your coming from in leaving Brenneman off the list, and he is a blanket who doesn't have stand-up. The only reason I included him is because he is 10 times the wrestler that Fitch is, and would likely beat Fitch due to blanketting and bad style match-up.
@ superflat - I think Hendo is a selectively good wrestler, who often has shown questionable wrestling in MMA. Hendo may have one of the more impressive wrestling pedigrees in the sport, but he hasn't always displayed those wrestling skills in MMA, preferring to wing overhand rights all day long. Also, Hendo has always had an ability to fight up or down to his level of competition, where he can look competitive against the very best, and then also look the equal of mid-tier fighters of their time like Misaki. I'd argue he has only displayed average wrestling, at best, in MMA, and mostly defensive wrestling with good clinch work. I also have seen him very unmotivated for fights, and he really looked that way against Shields. I think Hendo has looked better since he started taking Testosterone, but I still think he is overrated. Would beat Shields in a rematch, though.
intercept440- September 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm
@texican i wouldnt go so far as to say wrestlers rule MMA, i would say the more Complete fighters rule MMA.
strikers can only go so far with no ground game/same thing for ground guys with no standup.
it will take you a ways if you get stylized matches in your favor.
but everytime they come up against a fighter with more skills . they eventually lose
texican666- September 18, 2011 at 1:03 pm
"Donkey Wang", as we jokingly called him, looked like a beast. Wish he had a full gas tank though. Court Mcgee looked down right scared in the first, but as Wang faded, Mcgee got his confidence back. I do believe that was the best fight of the night IMHO. Hendo not having a gas tank is what i believe helped Shields take that fight. But right now, wrestlers do rule MMA, as RwilsonR as eluding to.
mt59801- September 18, 2011 at 11:30 am
I thought Yang was pretty impressive, he gave one of the best performances on this card.
intercept440- September 18, 2011 at 11:30 am
i agree with wilson, , ill even go out on a linb and say hendos loss to shields was a fluke, kinda like how super flat is saying shields just got clipped. look at his last three figths in the ufc, he barley beat his first opponenet by a shieldzzzzzzzz snoozefest decision. then got used and abused by Gsp. now gets Ko'd by ellenburger. yeah ill say his dad dying could have got in his head, but it may not have at all, it may have driven him to try to win even harder, hence him running into a knee and taking a small nap. if shields loses whoever they put him up against next. he will definatly be canned. put shieldzz against koscheck and hell loses that one as well, even fitch will lay on him and win a decision from him.
i think he was over hyped severly
superflat- September 18, 2011 at 10:57 am
@RwilsonR: Good wrestlers who can throw a punch. Now who comes to mind? Oh yeah, Henderson. And he's a big dude.

I'll throw out two other possibilities: Shields just got clipped (happens to everyone), the death of Shields' father caught up to him.
skeletor- September 18, 2011 at 10:50 am
@RwilsonR-I don't disagree but could we please leave Brennemen out of such discussions. The guy beat a clone of Fitch who is not as good as Fitch. Brenneman himself is a lower level Fitch and will be relegated to the undercard before his inevitable exit from the UFC within 4 fights.
RwilsonR- September 18, 2011 at 10:39 am
Records built outside of the UFC and without facing decent wrestlers who actually know how the throw a punch are just not going to stand up in modern MMA. Nick Diaz is another one with this problem. Reem is another, too.
Actually, I can't understand how Fitch has made it so long in the UFC and managed to avoid fighting decent wrestlers, but I guarantee he wouldn't have the win streaks he has if he had been fighting guys like Jake Ellenberger, Rick Story, Charlie Brenneman, or his butt-buddy Koscheck. If he had been fighting those guys instead of Luigi Fiorivanti, Fitch would have a lot more losses on his record.