At times, Jay Hieron has seemed crestfallen. From promotions closing to contract negotiations stalling, he’s seen his share of things not going according to plan.
So it is with great pleasure that with his win over Rick Hawn to claim this season’s Bellator welterweight tournament this past weekend, things are on track, both inside and outside the cage.
“Everything went according to plan,” Hieron told MMAWeekly.com. “I planned to use a lot of kicks, use my footwork and angles, and that’s what I did.”
The win did come with some cost.
“In that last round, he re-broke my nose,” said Hieron. “The last fight I had three, four weeks ago, I broke my nose and couldn’t even spar or have any kind of contact going into the fight.
“(Hawn) hit me somewhere in the second round and it just swelled up and I couldn’t breathe, and that’s why I was grabbing my nose a lot. Other than that, I felt great, sharp as ever.”
Feeling his performance was strong, Hieron was surprised that he won the fight via split decision.
“I thought it was unanimous all the way around,” he stated. “I knew I won, but like they say: never leave it in the hands of the judges. I give him a slight advantage in the third because he was more rested and I could hardly breathe at all.
“I definitely won the first two rounds hands down. My output was way more than his: punches, kicks, strikes, and I had a takedown on him in the second. I would love to the see punch stat numbers; I doubled his (output).”
Having won the tournament, Hieron now moves on to his next objective: taking the Bellator welterweight title from Ben Askren.
“I can’t wait,” he exclaimed. “The tournament’s been a grind and it’s definitely been hard to come off a fight being injured and having to fight a few weeks after that, but it’s made me that much more confident and mentally stronger than before.
“Going into this next fight I’m coming in 100-percent healthy and even that much sharper than I was my last few fights.”
With a few months before their title fight, Hieron is already feeling he’s got a definite edge on the champion.
“He is a great wrestler, but that’s about it,” said Hieron. “I’m not looking past anybody – he is a tough dude – but I have a great game plan going in, I’ll be well rested and ready to kick it into sixth or seventh gear.
“Everything I’ve done has gotten me to this place, and I’m going to make the best of it when I get there.”
After numerous issues delayed his assault on the top of the 170-pound ranks, Hieron is finally on track and will continue full steam ahead towards accomplishing his next goal.
“Thanks to Xtreme Couture and the fans for checking me out and staying behind me when I was down and wasn’t fighting; they gave me a lot of positive feedback,” he concluded. “Look for me next time when I get my title shot.”