It’s not the fight he wanted – or was originally promised – but with would-be opponent Nick Diaz out of the picture, Jay Hieron said he’s content to fight a big-name opponent such as Joe Riggs.
Company officials on Wednesday officially announced the fight as part of the Jan. 30 “Strikeforce: Miami” card at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.
Although Hieron (18-4 MMA, 1-0 SF) signed with Strikeforce last year primarily for the Diaz title fight, he today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) “patience is a virtue” and that he now his hands full with Riggs (32-10 MMA, 3-2 SF).
Such patience was tested when Hieron went from a promised title fight with Diaz to the un-aired preliminary card of “Strikeforce: Miami.”
Hieron, a former UFC and IFL fighter, used combat sports to turn around a once-troubled life. However, even there, he’s experienced more than a few setbacks, including expulsion from his collegiate wrestling team, the financial collapse of two former MMA homes, a defeat to Georges St-Pierre on MMA’s biggest stafe at a pivotal point of his career, and then the cancellation of an Aug. 15 title fight with Diaz when the fellow UFC vet skipped a mandatory pre-fight drug test.
For reasons still not entirely known, Hieron lost the title shot, and Diaz is now slated to fight promotional newcomer Marius Zaromskis in the main event of the Jan. 30 card.
“(I don’t know) if any fighter’s been through crazier stuff in his career; my name is definitely up there,” Hieron said. “They should have had that at the (2009) World MMA Awards. – the Most Craziest Stuff You’ve Been Through in Your Fight Career (award).”
As for Diaz, Hieron believes his hands are tied when it comes to their fight.
“You can’t make someone fight you that doesn’t want to fight you, and that’s the bottom line,” Hieron said. “I’m not an [expletive] talker at all, but the kid’s showing he doesn’t want to fight me.
“I respect Diaz as a fighter 100 percent, and I’m at the point in my career where I want to fight guys like that. (But) it shows me that he doesn’t fight me because of all this stuff. First, the drug test situation. OK, that’s understandable. But then after that, we were supposed to be on the (Nov. 6) CBS card. That didn’t happen. Then he’s talking about going up in weight, so it’s out of my control.”
While Strikeforce officials talked to Hieron about a potential Zaromskis fight (apparently before he was booked to fight Diaz), Hieron ultimately passed on the bout because he worried the opponent has little name recognition in the U.S. Instead, he preferred a bout with Riggs, who’s built up his name as a tough-as-nails fighter in organizations such as the UFC and Strikeforce.
Hieron said he has a tough test in Riggs, and he thinks the winner surely will fight the Diaz vs. Zaromskis winner. Although, as he said, “stranger things have happened.”
For now, Hieron, ever the optimist, is looking on the bright side.
“Life just got better when I got my fight (with Riggs),” he said. “It’s cool, bro. Patience is a virtue. I’m just patiently waiting for my time to come. I’m just knocking at that door.
“Sometimes I think I’m going to get there faster than other times, but I’ve just got to remember (to) stay patient. It’ll come because I do all the work. Every day I’m in there.”