MMA veteran Jay Hieron has seen it all in his professional MMA career which started in 2003. He made his UFC debut in his fifth professional fight against Georges St. Pierre, was released from the UFC and rattled off three consecutive victories to be invited back. He then lost another UFC fight via TKO(cut) against Jonathan Goulet and was released from the promotion again in 2005.
Hieron has gone (16-3) since that fight while beating fighters like Jesse Taylor, Jason High, and Jake Ellenberger. Hieron has agreed to replace Josh Koscheck and fight Ellenberger again at UFC 151 and believes he couldn’t have asked for a better comeback fight. Hieron talks about the journey back to the UFC below:
“I’ve never had anything handed to me, and I’m glad it went this way. It’s been a long time coming but, okay, this is the way it happened. I’m mentally tougher than I would be if I was in the UFC all along. I’ve dealt with things a lot of fighters have never had to deal with. I always believed I belonged in the UFC, that was I as good as the guys in the UFC.
It is tough, living in Vegas, living in the UFC’s home town, and seeing all these big cards all the time. I have cornered on big UFC shows and wondered when I would be back. I had people ask me if I was an amateur fighter, because why wasn’t I in the UFC? I’ve had great runs, beaten top guys, but it just wasn’t my time. Either I was signed or I was injured, it just never worked out for me to come back to the UFC, but I never got deterred. I had to take a different route and, now I am here, I appreciate it all so much.”
Hieron has not only fought against Jake Ellenberger, but he has cornered some of his teammates that have also fought Ellenberger. In fact, Ellenberger’s last fight was a loss against Martin Kampmann who is a teammate of Hieron, and Hieron thinks all of that experience is to his advantage:
“I couldn’t ask for a better comeback fight. I beat him before, and I will beat him again. I fought him back in 2006 and he was a hot prospect, he didn’t know he could lose and I beat him on points. I know he’s super-tough, and a much different fighter with a ton of experience, but I know I can beat him again. I know him very, very well.
I beat him in our fight and then I cornered Mike Pyle and Martin Kampmann against him. Jake’s last loss was to Martin and we spent a lot of time breaking down Jake’s style so Martin could take advantage of his weaknesses. I feel I know what Jake brings to the Octagon as well as anyone. I’ve fought him and I’ve cornered against him twice. Now, he’s a tough contender, I know. But whenever he thinks of his first loss, he thinks of losing to me and that will be in his mind. He knows I can beat him because I’ve done it before. I taught him how to lose.”
Hieron will face Ellenberger in the co-main event of UFC 151 and could make a huge splash in the division should he be able get past Ellenberger for the second time. UFC 151 will be headlined by the light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Dan Henderson.
Be sure to stay tuned to ProMMAnow (www.prommanow.com) for all of your UFC 151 coverage.