Hieron completes the stacked eight-man competition (Photo courtesy of Bellator).
Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament Now Set
The final piece of a loaded welterweight tournament that will take place in the upcoming season of Bellator Fighting Championships fell into place on Thursday. The promotion made official the eighth fighter in the competition, which begins in March, announcing that UFC veteran Jay Hieron (19-4) has been added.
“Jay’s the perfect fighter to round out our stacked welterweight tournament,” Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney stated. “He’s a true Mixed Martial Artist who has very few weaknesses and a ton of strengths inside the cage. Jay will be a tremendous test for anyone and everyone in this talent rich tournament.”
Hieron most recently fought a pair of matches with Strikeforce, scoring unanimous decision victories over Jesse Taylor and Joe Riggs. While he has not competed since last January, the Long Island native is eager to get back in action.
“I feel great right now,” Hieron confirmed. “I turned a negative into a positive with my time off and just took the opportunity to sharpen my skills. When you're training for a fight, the pressure's on, so it's hard to learn and evolve. It's straight business. With this time off, I've been able to focus on a lot of new techniques. Now I'm just excited to get back in there and show off my new arsenal.”
Before he turned to MMA, Hieron wrestled at Hofstra University after winning a National Junior College Championship at Nassau Community College in New York. Known as the Thoroughbred, he has won his past seven fights and has been very successful in a variety of MMA promotions. In addition to appearances in the UFC, Strikeforce and Affliction, he was one of the top fighters in the now defunct International Fight League (IFL) and held its welterweight title. The native New Yorker is also a team leader for Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, which is headed by UFC veteran, Randy Couture. With his vast experience as a fighter and coach, Hieron says the unique appeal of the Bellator tournament format is what led to him to signing with the promotion.
“This is the exact type of situation I wanted to be in right now,” he said. “With the tournament format, there's no politics, no golden boys, and nobody getting protected. There's none of that. If you win, you move forward, and that's that. That's the bottom line, and that's exactly what I was looking for. I feel like I've been through as bad a situation that somebody can go through in their career, and I'm still here. Not only that, but my body's right, I'm healthy, and I feel like it's my time.”
With the addition of Hieron, the Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament is now ready to go. Also slated to compete in it are former title-holder Lyman Good, Dan Hornbuckle, Rick Hawn, Brent Weedman, Jim Wallhead and Chris Lozano. The tournament will kick off in March, as Bellator begins the first of a three-year partnership with MTV2.