In the wake of Rory MacDonald‘s UFC 158 injury withdrawal — which is now confirmed to be a “severe neck and back strain” that will sideline him for three to four weeks — the UFC has shifted some talent around to make sure all the welterweights on the “St. Pierre vs. Diaz” supporting card still have dance partners.
As previously reported, MacDonald’s scheduled opponent Carlos Condit will face top 170-pound contender Johny Hendricks, who was originally supposed to face Jake Ellenberger. (The UFC first offered the Condit fight to Tarec Saffiedine, who reportedly declined.)
Now, Ellenberger’s replacement opponent at the March 16th event in Montreal will be none other than Nate Marquardt. The fight will be Marquardt’s first appearance in the Octagon since he was fired from the UFC in 2011 due to a testosterone-related misunderstanding, then reappeared in Strikeforce as a welterweight, KO’d Tyron Woodley to win the promotion’s vacant welterweight title, and lost it last month in a painful decision loss to…Tarec Saffiedine. See? It’s all connected, man. [*Huffs more keyboard duster*]
And there’s one more element that makes this story even more confusing: Jake Ellenberger is under the impression that Johny Hendricks — who has won his last five fights, including knockout wins of Jon Fitch and Martin Kampmann in a combined 58 seconds — is scared of him. Last night, he tweeted “I knew you’d find a way out @JohnyHendricks,” to which his brother Joe Ellenberger replied “Fight was signed. @JohnyHendricks called bossman, begged for easier fight. Got a new fight = ducking #scared.”
I’ve got nothing against the Ellenberger bros, but this is bordering on Rampage Jackson-level delusion. First off, the idea that Carlos Condit would be an easier opponent for Johny Hendricks than Jake Ellenberger is questionable to say the least. And “I knew you’d find a way out”? Come on, now. A co-main event fighter suffered a freak injury, and the first guy they tried to bring in as a replacement said no. So, Hendricks accepted a higher-profile fight against Condit, which helps his career and keeps the card somewhat intact. Would Jake Ellenberger have done any differently if he was in that situation?