It’s been a long journey back to the Octagon for welterweight Jay Hieron. “The Thoroughbred” was last seen in the infamous eight-sided ring seven years ago in a bout the organization has since buried based on the amount of blood involved from a cut Hieron suffered.
Interestingly enough, a man Hieron took out two fights later happens to be the very individual he’ll be facing in his UFC return – Jake Ellenberger. Hieron’s past experience with the divisional contender has left him confident entering their UFC on FX 5 bout tomorrow night, while the years he spent working his way back to such a position have left him hungry, making for what should be a deadly combination come showtime.
“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 in the Octagon myself. I had people ask me if I was an amateur fighter,” admitted Hieron in an interview with the UFC when asked about the gap between appearances. “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 couldn’t ask for a better comeback fight than Ellenberger,” he continued. “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.”
Not only does Hieron credit his time in the cage with his assuredness but also in the gym while helping teammates prepare for their respective rumbles with Ellenberger.
“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,” explained Hieron. “I feel I know what Jake brings to the Octagon as well as anyone. I taught him how to lose.”
The 23-5 Hieron has won eleven of his last twelve tilts with the only loss coming to unbeaten Ben Askren in a Bellator championship bout. Among the opponents he’s beaten in the past, in addition to Ellenberger, are the likes of Jason High, Jesse Taylor, and Joe Riggs.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC