- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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When the UFC first announced the next challenger to Georges St-Pierre’s title would be Nick Diaz -- Nick Diaz, the guy coming off a drug suspension, not to mention a loss -- plenty of people had a problem with it.
Jake Ellenberger wasn’t one of them.
As a rising welterweight contender, one would think Ellenberger (28-6) wouldn’t be too happy to see Diaz (26-8) jump him in line. But Ellenberger, who is set to face Nate Marquardt this weekend at UFC 158, didn’t mind at all, actually. He got it.
“I really didn’t have a problem with it,” Ellenberger told ESPN.com. “Nick’s been one of the top guys in the division for years. As a fan, I want to see that fight. Nick is dangerous. You’ve got a guy who is good at getting takedowns, and Nick is good off his back.
“How could you not be excited to see that fight? It’s a ticket-seller.”
Ellenberger was originally scheduled to face Hendricks, but the fight was canceled when Condit’s opponent, Rory MacDonald, withdrew due to injury. Hendricks agreed to replace MacDonald shortly after.
To Ellenberger, it felt like a “duck” -- like, maybe Hendricks opted for an easier fight.
“I was p---ed,” Ellenberger said. “I spent 10 weeks training for one guy. He’s not a hard guy to figure out. He throws hard punches and he’s good in a scramble. That’s it.
“I have him figured out and I will beat him. He knows I have the potential to beat him, so he takes a less dangerous fight.”
In addition to the frustration he has over lost time preparing for Hendricks, Ellenberger questions the logic of the move. Condit, after all, is coming off a loss to St-Pierre in November.
Should he end Hendricks’ five-fight win streak, the welterweight division will be absent a No. 1 contender.
“I’m not disrespecting Carlos Condit, but are they going to give him another fight with St-Pierre if he beats Hendricks? I don’t think so,” Ellenberger said.
“Carlos is a really dangerous guy at a certain range. If he fights at his range, he’ll do really well. I wouldn’t be surprised if Carlos won. I really wouldn’t.”
As he discusses Hendricks, Ellenberger’s tone quickly changes, and suddenly, as if he’s reminding himself of something, he dismisses the opponent change. It is what it is. He’s over it and focused on Marquardt (32-11-2).
For the record, though, next time Diaz complains he isn’t getting the respect a No. 1 contender deserves, he should know Ellenberger agrees with the main event -- just not the fight that will precede it.
“There’s not an anger feeling. It just doesn’t make sense to me,” Ellenberger said. “It’s out of my control. That’s on [the UFC].
“I forgot about it. I’m still fighting. I’ll be ready to fight on Saturday.”
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