(This is the last known photo taken of Jay Hieron before he was forced to cut off that thumb to fulfill contractual obligations.)
You gotta feel sorry for Jay Hieron. After a successful run through Bellator’s season 4 welterweight tournament, he was given the chance to knock reigning champion and narcolepsy catalyst Ben Askren from his perennial throne at Bellator 56. The fight was close to say the least, but it was the general consensus that Hieron had done enough (ie. stop Askren’s takedowns) to earn the title. The judges, however, saw things differently, awarding Askren the victory despite his usual lack of anything resembling offense. Sometimes these things happen in MMA. And just like that, Hieron’s title hopes, and a ten fight win streak dating back to 2007, were destroyed.
Cut to a year later. Hieron has requested time and time again for a rematch with Askren, only to be repeatedly denied by the Bellator brass, who informed him that if he is so desperate to get “Funky,” he should sign up for the next tournament and try his luck. Hieron wasn’t having it, and asked to be released from his contract.
And although Bellator are likely dealing with some separation issues at the moment, they kindly obliged “The Thoroughbred”…on the grounds that he would return a significant amount of money first.
When interviewed by NBC Sports, Hieron revealed that he had to hand over his signing bonus in order to be released from his contract:
I asked for a rematch with (Ben) Askren and they said no to go back through the tournament. That just didn’t make sense to me cause I thought I beat him already. I had to pay them back my signing bonus, but at this point in my career, I would rather do that than sit on the shelf.
It has never been a policy of Bellator to grant an immediate rematch with a champion, and in fact it has never happened in the promotion’s history. Alexander Shlemenko had to fight his way back to a rematch with Hector Lombard, and even after he did just that, he still didn’t receive it, so for Hieron to consider himself an exception is perhaps wrong on his part. Then again, Shlemenko’s fight with Lombard wasn’t exactly close, whereas Hieron could easily make the claim that he won rounds 1, 3, and 5 of the fight. Like we said, sometimes these things happen in MMA.
In either case, Hieron couldn’t be happier to get back int the game, tweeting the following:
Just got my release from BELLATOR..Time to work my way up too the top.
Hieron is currently scheduled to return to action on July 13th against an opponent TBA at a Legacy FC card, but he made sure that his contract with this promotion allows him to break said contract if he gets a call from any higher up *cough* UFC *cough* promotions in the near future. Hieron told NBC Sports, “Maybe if someone gets injured (we) will possibly get on a UFC card before.”
Let’s hope so. Hieron’s record may stand at a paltry 0-2 in the octagon, with losses coming to George St. Pierre (understandable) and Jonathan Goulet (WTF?!), but the man is a pretty damn entertaining fighter in his own right, and would make a welcome addition to the 170-pound division. Currently 22-5 in MMA competition, Hieron owns notable wins over current UFC welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger and former UFC brawler Joe “Diesel” Riggs among others.
So who’d like to see “The Thoroughbred” back in the octagon?