One would think that the winner of the anticipated bout between Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald, set to take place next Saturday as the co-headliner of UFC on FOX 8 in Seattle, would be the number one contender. For the longest while, I’ve been believing that myself until I started to think a little harder about some other match-ups that are scheduled in the upcoming future. But before we jump into this with a little more detail, what do you think? Do you believe that this fight is the “non-official” #1 contender fight and would sprout the next guy to fight for the belt after Johny Hendricks?
The welterweight division is one of the largest divisions in the UFC, but at the elite level, it’s a small world. Both MacDonald and Ellenberger have very familiar opponents that are also scheduled to face each other; Martin Kampmann and Carlos Condit. It won’t be the first time Condit and Kampmann have fought, as this will be a rematch from the first fight that saw Kampmann edge a decision. But now they’re scheduled for a rematch, which makes you question where they are in the welterweight division.
Obviously, the UFC would think twice about granting Carlos Condit another title shot if he wins impressively against Kampmann, but what about a match up against the MacDonald/Ellenberger winner? If it’s MacDonald who comes out the victor, a fight with Condit would be a rematch from MacDonald’s UFC debut where he lost in the third round by strikes despite putting up a good fight. A fight between MacDonald and Kampmann would be an exciting high-profile fight, but I don’t think it carries as much weight as when you put Condit in the mix.
But let’s say Ellenberger defeats MacDonald and the UFC still doesn’t grant him a title shot. Ellenberger would most likely have to face either Condit or Kampmann – two fighters that he’s already fought before. Ellenberger lost to both Condit and Kampmann; he lost to Condit by a close split decision, but was finished by Kampmann in the second round. I think an Ellenberger/Condit II fight would carry more attention than Ellenberger/Kampmann II, but what about other options?
I’ve been using Condit/Kampmann as possible candidates, but there are other welterweights that could fit the bill. Robbie Lawler could step in against one of these guys if he beats Bobby Voelker, or perhaps Dong Hyun-Kim? Hell, Jake Shields could even be a possibility. With all these different guys being involved in the top echelon of the welterweight division, the UFC is going to have some serious thought go into whatever happens after Ellenberger/MacDonald. Preferably, I’d like to see them get the next title shot, but we know we can never count on logic in the UFC’s matchmaking.