UFC 173 Date: May 24, 2014 Arena: MGM Grand Garden Arena City: Las Vegas, NV Welterweight bout: Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger (+190) vs “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (-210) Fight Breakdown: The UFC 173 main card on Pay-Per-View will feature a brawl between two top 10 fighters in the UFC’s welterweight division. Action and fireworks are expected when Nebraska native Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger squares off against the native of Iowa, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. “The Juggernaut” is the underdog heading into this contest at +190 ($100 to win $190), with “Ruthless” being a -210 ($210 to win $100) favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbooks. Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger (29-7 MMA, 8-3 UFC) is set to make his 12th Octagon appearance coming off a 10-month layoff. He was scheduled to take on former Strikeforce welterweight champion Tarec Saddiefine back in January, but had to withdraw from the bout to due injury. “The Juggernaut” last saw action at UFC on FOX 8, dropping a unanimous decision to Rory MacDonald, finding himself unable to get anything going against the Canadian. He had no answer for MacDonald’s jab, and could not get any offense going. To improve his striking, he started training with Ronda Rousey’s striking coach Edmond Tarverdyan at the Glendale Fighting Club in Glendale, CA. Word around the gym is Ellenberger has really improved on his already solid stand-up. The 29-year old orthodox striker possesses power in both hands, but does more damage with his left. He has a mean left uppercut, and arguably the most vicious left hook in the UFC’s 170-pound division. While a large welterweight, Ellenberger is in my opinion one of the fastest in the division. He has great footwork, and puts together some excellent and effective combinations on the feet. “The Juggernaut” is a talented wrestler who was the assistant wrestling coach for the University of Nebraska. He is far from the best wrestler in the division, but gets the job done. Ellenberger works good takedowns, when deciding to take the fight to the mat, and when there, works a heavy top game with some solid ground and pound. His submission game is on point, too, as he owns a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His conditioning has been an issue with him in the past, but I think he has made improvements in that department. In any case, I would not expect him to have an edge in cardio over Lawler. That said, I do believe he will have enough in the tank for 15 minutes of action, should the fight reach the distance. He may not be the superior striker or have better cardio, but he will have the wrestling advantage over Lawler heading into this bout. Also, while Lawler on paper is the superior striker, I would not be surprised to see Ellenberger get the better of him on the feet. At the least, I think he will be able to keep it competitive. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (22-10 MMA, 7-4 UFC) has made a splash in the UFC’s welterweight division in his second stint with the promotion, starting off with a pair of knockout victories over Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker, and then a decision over Rory MacDonald, which put him in position for a shot at the vacant UFC welterweight title, after Georges St. Pierre announced his (for-the-time-being) retirement. Johny Hendricks was the top contender for the title, having arguably beaten GSP in their bout just prior to the French-Canadian’s retirement. Lawler, on an impressive three fight winning streak at the time, made sense as the second opponent, so the fight was booked. “Ruthless” was a heavy underdog going into the five round title fight, but proved oddsmakers wrong, as he headed into the fifth round with two rounds already under his belt. Unfortunately, things took a turn when Hendricks went for a takedown and Lawler couldn’t get back to his feet and would go on to lose a decision. Lawler went back to the drawing board. A week later, he let the UFC know he was ready to go, and they immediately booked him this match-up. “Ruthless” faced Hendricks just two months ago, so ring rust will not be an issue with him, while it will be one for his opponent Ellenberger who has not seen action in 10 months, so that will be one advantage the Iowa native has going for him heading into this welterweight scrap. He will also be enjoying a slight height and reach advantage over the former University of Nebraska Division II wrestler. Lawler has trained out of the Pat Miletich camp (Miletich Fighting Systems) in his Iowa hometown throughout most of his career, with some time spent at Power MMA in Arizona, but since his return to the UFC with the Koscheck bout, he has moved his training camp to American Top Team in Coconut Creek, FL, and the improvements he has made since switching camps has been clear as day. Not only does he train out of Florida now, but recently he decided the Sunshine state was his new home and moved his family down to the Southeast. Lawler is a heavy handed striker with a good chin, so he isn’t afraid to mix it up. He is also a great sprawler with tremendous takedown defense, often keeping the fight where he wants it. Bouncing back into action immediately after the Hendricks loss, “Ruthless” is eager to get back in the win column and work his way towards another bid for the belt. Gabe’s Prediction: If this were a five round main event, I would say Lawler should be -200. Sure, even the current -210 would be acceptable. However, in a three round fight, I favor Ellenberger. I think Ellenberger should be the favorite in this fight. I feel getting him at -150 or better would be and IS a complete STEAL. – Let’s for a second pretend it’s the Fall of 2013, and this match-up is taking place then, rather than now. Ellenberger hasn’t lost to Rory MacDonald, and Lawler has not beat MacDonald. Those fights have not happened. Instead, Ellenberger is coming off back to back wins over Jay Hieron and Nate Marquardt to take on Lawler, who is coming off back to back wins over Josh Koscheck and Bobby Voelker. In that scenario, I think Ellenberger would have been at least a -160 favorite, possibly a -220 favorite. But ‘cos of the fact that they both had different results against MacDonald combined with the fact that Lawler had a good showing in a title-fight against Hendricks, the line is completely flipped and is the opposite of what it should be, and we are getting Ellenberger at a great price. Sure, he could lose, any -200 favorite could – but he should be the -200 favorite, I believe that. As for the fight itself, I think Ellenberger will keep it very competitive on the feet and possibly outstrike Lawler. If the fight stays completely on the feet, I very well could see him taking at least two out of three rounds, but I think he will also be mixing in takedowns to secure the rounds, so that increases my confidence in him. Gabe’s Call: “The Juggernaut” by T/KO (strikes, 2:52 round 1) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Jake Ellenberger (+190) 4u to win 7.6u
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