The UFC 156 gears up for February’s Super Bowl Weekend in Las Vegas with a card headlined by a featherweight title defense for champion Jose Aldo as he takes on former Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. The card is coming together, but has not been completed. The UFC did announce an intriguing welterweight fight between prospect Erick Silva and veteran Jay Hieron in a fight between two guys that are coming off losses in their last outings.
Silva took on Jon Fitch in his last bout, and Fitch won the fight despite Silva flashing some moments of offense in the second round. Silva has to see that bout as a career setback, as he was a slight favorite heading into the bout. Fitch represented his key to getting into the contender spots in the division, and Fitch handled him easily. Though labelled a ‘prospect’, Silva is 28 and probably already in his athletic prime. He has to feel pressure to perform in this next fight.
Hieron too, must feel some pressure. He fought once in the UFC in 2004 and once in 2005, then advanced his career in organizations such as IFL and Bellator. At 36, he returned to the UFC and dropped his match to Jake Ellenberger. He took that fight as a replacement, and as far as having a full training camp and knowing your next UFC fight and opponent, this may be close to Hieron’s last chance for a run.
Hieron also possesses some of the physical tools needed to give Silva a hard fight. A strong wrestler who can match Silva’s length and reach and has a lot of experience winning fights. He is the man who beat Bellator stand outs Brent Weedman and Rick Hawn into the Lightweight division, and he toughed out a Split Decision loss to Bellator champion Ben Askren. He has been the full three rounds a few times, and the Askren match was a full five rounder. he has a grinding style, and Silva looked tired when faced with Fitch’s pressure.
Silva is going to have to come out aggressive and take it to Hieron. I suspect Silva will be favored when the lines are drawn up for this fight, but Hieron is an opponent that has a lot of the same skill set that has given him trouble, and he is going to have to come out and show something new. Hieron as a slight underdog might be a very good bet come fight time.