Still, despite his veteran and established status, Ellenberger believes he’s a vastly improved fighter heading into his next, and perhaps biggest, UFC fight.
One noteworthy change has come with Ellenberger, who lives in Orange County, making the trek south three to four days a week to train at the Glendale Fighting Club under coach Edmond Tarverdyan.
“He invited me up to the gym,” said Ellenberger, who said he began training at the GFC in January. “He’s really a brilliant guy.
“I love how he breaks things down, he’s very technical.”
The 29-year-old Ellenberger has a 29-7 record with 18 knockouts to his credit and a laundry list of big victories over such notables as Nate Marquardt, Diego Sanchez, Jake Shields, Mike Pyle and Pat Healy.
On Wednesday, he was joined by “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (22-10), who Ellenberger will oppose on May 24 in Las Vegas at UFC 173.
“I like guys like Robbie, his style, he comes forward,” said Ellenberger of the No. 1-ranked Lawler, who has 18 career knockouts and is coming off a UFC welterweight title loss to Johny Hendricks in a dramatic five-round battle. “It makes for an entertaining fight.”
Likewise, Ellenberger is coming off a loss in his last bout – a unanimous decision loss to Rory MacDonald in a fight panned by many for its lackluster action, which was an aberration in a career full of action fights for Ellenberger. Since the defeat in July of 2013, Ellenberger was twice scheduled to face Tarec Saffiedine, but Ellenberger was forced to pull out of a January bout due to a hamstring injury. Then, when the bout was rescheduled, Ellenberger was rebooked for the higher-profile collision with Lawler.
“I’m excited,” Ellenberger said. “I got more time to prepare and obviously it’s a big fight.”
“As far as the injury, everything couldn’t be better.”
Among other locales in which Ellenberger trains is the Gracie Academy in Torrance, where UFC women’s bantamweight champion and Glendale Fighting Club trainee Ronda Rousey trains, as well. It was there that Ellenberger met Tarverdyan, who was overseeing Rousey’s training.
Tarverdyan, trains current UFC fighters Rousey, Manny Gamburyan, Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler, as well as boxers such as Vic Darchinyan and Art Hovhannisyan. Due in large part to Rousey’s overwhelming stardom, Tarverdyan, once very much overlooked in the Jewel City, has become a soughtafter coach. Though his workload continues to grow, he doesn’t toss around invitations for new trainees at a whim, but he extended an invitation to Ellenberger.
“Just personality,” said Tarverdyan of what moved him to invite Ellenberger to train at the GFC. “[He is] a very nice guy, just humble, and a good student. … He never makes the same mistake twice.”
Now, Ellenberger will have Tarverdyan in his corner against Lawler as he’s quickly become comfortable honing his fistic craft in Glendale.
“I’ve worked with coaches all over the world, every camp you can think of, I’ve been to,” Ellenberger said. “I could say, he’s one of the most intelligent coaches in combat sports.
“It’s a privilege to work with him. It was a real organic relationship and we became good friends.”
Said Tarverdyan: “It’s been going very well.”
Most notably, Ellenberger points out his improvement in singular aspects of his striking, particularly his jab, and Tarverdyan’s eye for fighting strategy.
“He’s phenomenal at strategy,” Ellenberger said. “The more I worked with him, the more I realized he’s not just good at coming up with strategy, but training for a strategy.”
So now, Ellenberger, known for his strong wrestling base and takedown defense and the dynamite in his hands, moves forward in search of arguably his biggest career win with a new training influence and plenty of confidence.
“If I’m 100% and I fight how I know I can,” Ellenberger said, “I can beat anybody in the world.”
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.