The first scoring from a judge announced gave the fight to Jay Hieron. The second announced judge's score awarded the fight to Rick Hawn.
Right about now, with everything that Jay Hieron has been through in his 10 years a mixed martial artist, it's time to get nervous. Well, maybe time for everyone else.
"I was very confident I won that fight," Hieron told Newsday.
And when the ring announcer declared Hieron the winner of the Bellator Season 4 welterweight tournament on Saturday night, Hieron's confidence was justified.
"I knew I won the first two rounds," said Hieron, who grew up in Freeport and wrestled for both Freeport High School and Hofstra University. "I watched it again on tape, and I still feel I won the first two rounds.”
Hieron, 34, said he had his nose broken in the semifinal bout on April 7 against Brett Weedman, and it hadn't fully healed before Saturday night's bout. Hawn, a 2004 Olympian in judo, hit Hieron with a shot in the second round and reaggravated the injury. Hieron said he had trouble breathing from that point on.
Using his counterattacking style, Hieron clearly won the first round. Hawn won the third round without question, as he pushed the pace and landed shots on Hieron. It was the second round that was left up for debate. Both fighters landed shots, but Hieron's style of looking for angles, using his range, moving his head and counterstriking is often misconstrued. Some say it looks like he's running away. Others say it's intelligent fighting. Really, though, it only matters what the judges think.
Winning the tournament guarantees Hieron a shot at Ben Askren's Bellator welterweight championship later this year. No date has been set, but after three fights in 63 days, Hieron welcomes the time off to relax and recuperate.
In a tournament format, there's little time to heal, and even less time to complain. Basically, shut up and train, followed by shut up and fight.
“It’s not just who’s the best fighter," said Hieron, winner of 10 straight fights. "It’s the guy who has everything: motivation, heart, perseverance."