Preview by Anthony Springer Jr.
The long road back to the UFC for Las Vegas’ Jay Hieron got a little bit longer recently. After going 0-2 in the organization with losses to Georges St-Pierre and Jonathan Goulet, Hieron went on a tear outside the world’s biggest MMA promotion. And when you go 16-3, it’s kinda hard for Zuffa not to have you back.
Originally scheduled to meet Jake Ellenberger in the co-main event of UFC 151. Due to the now infamous cancellation, Hieron and the “Juggernaut” now occupy the co-main event slot on tomorrow’s UFC on FX 5.
“I have a lot of experience,”Hieron (23-5) said reflecting on his career. “Even when I got the first call [to come back] it didn’t settle in. I wanted to sign the contract first. This is the perfect time for me. Everything I’ve been through has made me stronger.”
One of those experiences is a victory over the man who will stand opposite him on the Octagon come fight night. That was 2006 – a near eternity ago in MMA times. Hieron acknowledges that Ellenberger evolved since that bout in the International Fight League.
“I’ve got history with Jake. I fought him and I’ve cornered two guys that have fought him. He’s a totally different fighter but so am I.”
Since then, Ellenberger (27-6) racked up six straight wins in the UFC before running into a knee from Hieron’s teammate Martin Kampmann in June. Ellenberger nearly made it victory seven, but many attribute the loss to the Nebraskan punching himself out in the cage. Hieron is preparing to weather an early storm while picking his spots.
“He’s gotten more well-rounded,” Hieron says of Ellenberger. “He’s a gun slinger. He’s going to come out and pull his trigger. I’m a sharp shooter. So when he comes out pulling his trigger, I’m lining him up.”
Despite the loss, Ellenberger is still arguably a top-10 fighter in the talent rich welterweight division, which suits the 36-year-old just fine.
“Eleven years I’ve been pro,”Hieron states. “It’s just something burning inside me that wants to fight the best in the world so UFC was the goal.”
UFC on FX 5: Browne vs. Bigfoot kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on FX.
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Coming up next: UFC on FX: Browne vs. Bigfoot is live from the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN on Friday, Oct. 5. Click here for more info