However, whether it be injuries, bad timing or just horrible luck, Hieron could never get back into the promotion.
Now, after an injury to Josh Koscheck, Hieron (23-5) will finally compete again inside the Octagon when he takes on Jake Ellenberger in the co-main event of UFC 151 on September 1.
Hieron found out that he was being given a second chance in the UFC when his manager phoned him right before bed about a month ago.
“I knew something was up because he was calling so late,” Hieron said. “He said, ‘You ready for this?’ I said, ‘I’m born ready.’ But I wasn’t ready for him to say I got a fight as the co-main event on the same UFC show headlined by Jon Jones and Dan Henderson. I got the call at midnight, I packed, I didn’t sleep at all and at 6 a.m. I was getting on a plane back to Vegas (Hieron was training out in Boston at the time of the call). That was on a Wednesday and I was sitting down doing stuff for the UFC Countdown show by Thursday morning. Just like that, seven years later, I’m back in the big time.”
Facing Ellenberger was a welcome sight for Hieron, as he handed Ellenberger his first professional loss during an IFL event back in 2006. He has even cornered both Mike Pyle and Martin Kampmann in fights against Ellenberger.
“I couldn’t ask for a better comeback fight,” Hieron said. “I beat him before, and I will beat him again. I know he’s super tough, and a much different fighter with a ton of experience, but I know I can beat him again. I feel I know what Jake brings to the Octagon as well as anyone. He’s a tough contender, I know, but whenever he thinks of his first loss, he thinks of losing to me and that will be in his mind.”
This will be the biggest fight for Hieron, but thanks to his close relationship with Randy Couture, he has been around the UFC over the past few years.
“It is tough, living in Vegas, living in the UFC’s hometown, and seeing all these big cards all the time,” said Hieron, who trains at Xtreme Couture. “I have cornered on big UFC shows and wondered when I would be back. I had people ask me if I was an amateur fighter because, ‘Why wasn’t I in the UFC?’ I feel like I haven’t achieved what I was supposed to achieve yet. I will appreciate this; I wouldn’t change a thing.”