Jay Hieron defeated Joe Riggs by unanimous decision Saturday at Strikeforce: Miami. Hieron, who is ranked #13 in the world by MMA Planet in the welterweight division, has many options. Those options exist for Jay because he is now officially a free agent.
Hieron went to Strikeforce following the fall of Affliction in hopes of getting a title shot. That shot has not come. Not only has the title shot not come, Hieron has not even made a telecast in two fights. Striekforce CEO Scott Coker had billed the Hieron vs. Riggs fight as a number one contender fight, however that tune changed following the event. Coke stated that is was likely that Japanese welterweight Hayato “Mach” Sakurai would get the next crack at new champ Nick Diaz. Well, what happens to Hieron?
It is possible that Hieron would leave Strikeforce and sign with another organization. Speaking with MMAWeekly, his manager, Ken Pavia said this:
He has an exclusive negotiating period with Strikeforce, but beyond that he is, he has no more fights left on his deal. There’s an exclusive negotiating period, and then there’s also a right to match, which is pretty standard in the industry at this point. It’s words until it happens. I wouldn’t read into it too much. We think Jay’s entitled to a title shot. We’ve thought he was the top contender for a couple fights now and we’ve won, but until they officially announce who’s fighting for the belt, I’m not going to concern myself too much about that until something actually occurs. A lot of stuff has to be sorted out before hand. I believe it will be good faith negotiations and I’m sure a resolution will come, whether it’s a title shot or something else that happens. You’ve got to consider every option and opportunity for a fighter. You’ve ultimately got to way the benefits and the detriments for everyone. It’s basic logic, you’ve got to consider everything. That being said, he’s not unhappy with Strikeforce. I mean he’s unhappy he hasn’t made television and it affects his sponsorship money. He’s unhappy that he didn’t get to fight for the title shot, but we also recognize that it’s not all Strikeforce’s fault. There are a lot of different issues that come into play, so it’s not to say we wouldn’t have issues if we were in the UFC, or with a Japanese organization. I think there’s a multiplicity of factors and money being the number one factor, but not the only factor. There’s television, there’s title opportunities, there’s opponents, there’s timing, there’s so many factors that come into play and as an agent we go out and cultivate the opportunities, and try to maximize every element out there. If they tell you it’s not about money, they’re lying. It’s always about money. That’s an overwhelming factor. And time and time again, people say it’s not about the money, they’re lying to you. It’s always, always, always about the money, but everything else does chip away at that ultimate motivating factor. Next to money he wants to fight the toughest guys and he wants a title shot, and I respect that.
Strikeforce does not seem to want to promote Hieron correctly. He can re-up with Strikeforce and probably eventually get a title shot or he could go for the stability of the UFC. In the UFC he is likely to get paid well and there are more quality fighters in his weight class, however a title shot will be harder to come by. If I was Hieron I would be aggravated by the lack of being promoted by Strikeforce and being passed over again for a title shot. I also would want to prove myself against the best. The money and the challenge are in the UFC and somehow I think that Hieron ends up back in Strikeforce. He may have to fight one more guy before he gets the shot, but a title shot comes fastest in Strikeforce.