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Strikeforce Preview: Jay Hieron vs. Jesse Taylor

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Jay "The Thoroughbred" Hieron has seen his stock rise over the past couple of years. After a successful run in the now defunct IFL, Hieron began competing for Affliction. Coming off a knockout victory over Jason High in January, Hieron was expected to compete on the third Affliction card before that company ceased promotional operations. Having since been signed by Strikeforce, Jay offers their welterweight division a credible welterweight fighter with serious experience. Jay is fairly versatile, possessing strong wrestling skills and ever improving striking. Hieron has a professional record of 17-4 with 6 wins coming by way of knockout and 5 wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 63.3%.

Jesse Taylor is best known by MMA fans for blowing a golden opportunity at the finals of TUF season 7. The 26 year old Californian has, however, allegedly matured and has benefited greatly from a recent drop down to welterweight. This will be a big step up in competition for Jesse at 170 pounds as he faces a name opponent in his Strikeforce debut. Taylor has a professional record of 13-3 with 4 wins coming by way of knockout and 6 wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 65.0%.

Although we would have all preferred a welterweight title fight instead, this matchup could be entertaining. Taylor is a talented kid and looks comfortable at 170 pounds, but I think that this fight will ultimately serve to introduce more fans to Jay Hieron. Assuming that this bout isn't canceled due to a drunken tirade by Taylor through a local casino, I'd expect that fans will be treated to an entertaining scrap with Hieron asserting himself more as the fight progresses. Look for experience to win out here. My prediction: Jay Hieron by decision.