By Benjamin Bieker
It looks like as the injury bug continues into 2013 and Strikeforce fighters are starting to gain entry into the UFC because of it. The UFC ran out of backup fighters after a tough 2012, but now have access to a fresh roster since Strikeforce is coming to a close. That trend started at UFC 155 when Derek Brunson stepped in on short notice opposite Chris Leben, and now Tyron Woodley steps in place of Erick Silva at UFC 156 against Jay Hieron. UFC 156 takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada on super bowl weekend. The card is headlined by Frankie Edgar and Jose Aldo in featherweight title match superfight.
Tyron Woodley has not fought since last July when he faced Nate Marquardt for the Strikeforce welterweight title. He had his moments in the fight, but as it drug on Marquardt took control and stopped him in the fourth round with a killer combination. Before that fight, Woodley was a flawless 10-0 with big wins over Paul Daley, Tarec Saffiedine, and Andre Galvao. Hieron will be his toughest test to date since Marquardt, but a win over him would truly earn him his spot in the octagon.
Hieron is seen as one of the best fighters to never earn a win in the UFC despite three tries. He first entered the UFC in only his fifth fight, and had the unlucky challenge of facing future welterweight phenom Georges St. Pierre, and after another loss he was out of the promotion. He returned to the promotion after going 16-3 to fight on short notice against former foe Jake Ellenberger at UFC 151, but that fight was postponed due to the cancellation of the card. When the fight finally did happen it was close, but Ellenberger came away the victor. Now, he has another chance to earn his first UFC win.
The match will be interesting to see how it plays out since the fighters share similar strengths. They both use a very wrestling heavy base, and win most of their fights on the ground. Hieron is the more experienced fighter and will have that big show experience going into the bout, but beating up and comers is a requirement to stay relevant in the sport of MMA. So, we will see if Hieron will be able to earn his first win, or lose out once again to a prospect in Woodley.
What are your thoughts?