After more than a year off from fighting, Jay Hieron has stepped back into MMA as part of this season’s Bellator welterweight tournament. He hasn’t skipped a beat. In fact, according to him, he’s at his absolute peak.
“I’m feeling better than ever,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “I had a chance to step back and push that reset button and sharpen up my skills.
“I had a long layoff and now getting back-to-back fights I feel I’m catching back up. This is what I needed right now in my career. Before that I was fighting once, twice a year, so I feel I needed this.”
As he continues to fight, Hieron is able to implement more of what he worked on during his layoff.
“The first (tournament fight) was quick, the second one I got a chance to work out all the rust,” he commented.
“With the stuff I’ve been working on in training with trainers and my team I feel I’ve done a good job. Now I’m moving on with the momentum; feeling good, feeling confident, I’m healthy and moving into the finals Saturday night.”
As Hieron stated, on Saturday night he’ll get a chance to compete for the tournament title against former Olympic judoka Rick Hawn. It’s an opportunity Hieron feels he has earned.
“It’s the last fight of the tournament, and I don’t like to look past anybody, but I feel I deserve (to win) it,” he said. “I feel I’ve put in all the work and I’ve trained just as hard as anyone in there.
“I’m going to go in there Saturday and if I do what I do every day in the gym, I feel I’ll have my hand raised at the end of the night.”
Hieron feels that being a veteran fighter with overall fighting skills will overcome Hawn’s grappling prowess.
“I do have a lot more experience than him with way better fighters,” stated Hieron. Not taking anything away from him, he’s a tough guy and has a strong judo background, but I’m more well-rounded.
“At the end of the day, it’s not a judo fight, it’s an MMA fight.”
A win by Hieron could continue to add to the debate of who is the top welterweight in the world along with Strikeforce titleholder Nick Diaz and UFC champion Georges St-Pierre. It’s a situation Hieron hopes one day he can help resolve inside the cage.
“I’ve got a couple fighters in front of me first, but I’d love to fight the best in the world,” commented Hieron. “That’s what I do this for. I hope one day that can happen.”
So far after his layoff, Hieron is proving he’s at the top of his game, and should he continue to do so, it may not be long before he’s at the top of Bellator’s 170-pound division.
“Thanks to my team, Xtreme Couture, all my training partners and coaches like Gil Martinez, and all the fans for their support,” concluded Hieron. Everybody check it out on Saturday night, it’s going to be a great fight.
“(I intend to) just keep racking up these wins and be the best I can be and keep doing what I’m doing.”
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