Talk about the opportunity of a lifetime.
After a seven year absence from Zuffa’s graces that saw him go 16-3 in various promotions including Bellator, Strikeforce, and most recently Legacy Fighting Championships, highly-ranked welterweight Jay Hieron will finally be returning to the UFC to take on Jake Ellenberger in Josh Koscheck’s absence in the co-main event of UFC 151.
As you may recall, after losing a title bid to Ben Askren in a highly controversial (re: bullshit) split decision at Bellator 56, Hieron became locked in a bitter contract dispute with Bellator that ended with him returning his signing bonus in order to be relieved of his contract. When breaking the news of his free agent status via his twitter account, Hieron tweeted that it was “time for me to work my way back up to the top.” One can not think of a faster way of doing so than by knocking off a top contender in Ellenberger on less than a month’s notice.
Hieron has not competed in the UFC since October of 2005, where he suffered a third round TKO via cut loss to the now-retired Jonathan Goulet in one of the bloodiest MMA fights you will ever see. Now 11-1 in his past twelve, Hieron’s lone defeat in the past five years was the aforementioned loss to Askren in their welterweight title bout.
Ellenberger, on the other hand, is coming off a tough TKO loss of his own at the hands and knees of comeback all-star Martin Kampmann at the TUF 15 Finale. The loss was the first in his 33-fight career to come by way of (T)KO, and snapped an impressive six-fight win streak that included wins over Diego Sanchez, Jake Shields, and Mike Pyle among others.
One has to imagine that bailing the UFC out on short notice will at least buy Hieron a couple more fights even if he is unsuccessful against Ellenbgerger, but what do you think, Potato Nation? Will Hieron’s glorious return end in triumph or defeat?