Jake Ellenberger staked his claim for a title shot in the welterweight division with a win over Diego Sanchez in a hard-fought three round battle at UFC On Fuel TV 1.

Sanchez looked a little soft in the mid-section heading into the Octagon this evening, but the same old intensity was there. Ellenberger wasn’t intimidated though, and he got the better of the first round.

Ellenberger was landing the more hurtful blows in the opening round and also seemed to have found his range better while Sanchez was trying to rush in with flurries of strikes and was often ending up eating some counters instead.

A couple of knees from Ellenberger found a home on Sanchez face, but his biggest moment of the round came when he avoided a few punches from him and then landed two powerful strikes in return that knocked Sanchez briefly to the mat.

Ellenberger also landed another punishing blow in the final stages and Sanchez was perhaps lucky that the bell sounded, leaving him to head back to his corner with blood leaking from a cut to the bridge of his nose.

While he wasn’t able to do quite so much damage in the second round Ellenberger was still bossing the stand-up for much of the round. Later he managed to secure a solid double-leg takedown and ended the round strongly, landing some heavy elbow strikes to the head of Sanchez.

Sanchez needed to dig deep in the third round, and indeed he did just that. Fueled by sheer guts and determination he ploughed forward with strikes and started to find his range, and by the middle of the round it was Ellenberger who was also now sporting a cut on his face which turned the closing minutes into something of a bloodbath.

The blood also made the two men slick, and that cost Ellenberger as slipped out of an attempt to grab a hold of Sanchez and resulted in him being on his back in danger for the final stages.

Sanchez wasn’t in any mood to let the opportunity pass him by and he left it all in the cage as he threw countless blows down on Ellenberger’s head.

Ellenberger kept moving, but was toiling under the constant offense and the referee started to hover close by. In the nick of time he somehow managed to wriggle free and got back to his feet throwing punches as the bell sounded.

This was a great rally from Sanchez to end the fight on a high-note, but it proved to be too late to save him from a unanimous decision loss, 29-28 on all three scorecards.

The third round didn’t go according to plan, but that aside Ellenberger looked good here and this is another exciting fight to add to his resume.

Now six fights undefeated tonight’s performance will also help him put together a convincing case to be considered in the title mix at 170lbs sooner rather than later.