MONTREAL – If UFC 158 is indeed a welterweight tournament, then Jake Ellenberger just booked himself a place in the finals.

Ellenberger made an undeniable statement with a brutal first-round finish of former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nate Marquardt.

The welterweight bout was part of the main card of Saturday’s UFC 158 event at Bell Centre in Montreal. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.

Marquardt opened the highly anticipated bout with chopping leg kicks as Ellenberger stalked from the center. Ellenberger didn’t bother with checking them and instead preferred to simply fire back with heavy punches.

It was a wise decision

Ellenberger countered a low kick with a left-right combination on the button, and Marquardt fell to his knees. Heavy punches followed from a standing Ellenberger, including one massive right to the ear that saw Marquardt go face-first into the canvas. Referee Phillipe Chartier rushed in at the 3:00 mark of the opening frame.

A bloodied Marquardt protested the stoppage, but replays showed it was more than justified.

“It’s hard to explain the emotions right now,” Ellenberger said after the fight. “I’ve worked so hard to get where I’m at. I’ve sacrificed so much, but this makes it all worth it.”

Ellenberger (29-6 MMA, 8-2 UFC) is now 8-1 in his past nine fights and would seem to be primed for a No. 1 contender fight.

Marquardt (32-12-2 MMA, 10-5 UFC), meanwhile, has now dropped back-to-back fights and suffers a defeat in his return to the UFC.

Up-to-the-minute UFC 158 results include:

For complete coverage of UFC 158, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

Matt Erickson and Ben Fowlkes contributed to this report on-site in Montreal.

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