Siding with the judges who scored Friday night’s co-main event that saw Jake Ellenberger earn a decision victory in rematch with the first man to defeat him in professional competition, Jay Hieron, isn’t an unfathomable idea or ludicrous stance.
That said, it’s not exactly outlandish to reach the conclusion that Jay Hieron did more than enough work to take a decision himself.
An incredibly close fight, the vast majority of the bout took place from a vertical position, as both men looked to gain the upper hand in an extremely closely contested technical kickboxing match.
Hieron managed to keep Ellenberger just outside of the pocket and in comfortable range to land his jab and prevent “The Juggernaut” from closing the distance (sans a few brief scares), and he utilized a varied attack that seemed to leave his foe befuddled for stretches.
When Ellenberger did force his way into the pocket, he did a solid job of making Hieron pay the price. He staggered “The Thoroughbred” on a couple occasions, and managed to score a flash knockdown in the fading minutes of the final round.
Incorporate a pair of takedowns (one of which proved virtually irrelevant as Hieron spent no time on his back and was up and mobile in moments, one of which yielded some nice punishment from Ellenberger that left Hieron a bloody mess) and it seemed apparent that Jake was the far more imposing specimen physically.
I simply refuse to believe Hieron matched Ellenberger’s pure strength.
That said, I saw a fight that the judges didn’t see. I saw Hieron working constantly, exhibiting a deeper pool of tools with which to dive into, and ultimately earning more points than the perennial contender, Ellenberger.
These eyes (which I consider pretty unbiased) viewed this fight without any preconceived notions or bias affixed: the truth is, I’m a pretty neutral guy in my view of both men. These are two tough guys who’ve been around forever and fought a wealth of tough opponents.
Prior to this bout, I wasn't leaping to brand anyone a sure-fire winner, and I sat perched atop a fence of complete indecision.
I saw Jay Hieron earn a decision (29-28) nod over Jake Ellenberger. According to Fightmatrix.com, my opinion isn’t mind numbingly absurd: Hieron outlanded Ellenberger by a tally of 43 to 27 total strikes, 32 to 25 in terms of significant shots landed.
Was Hieron the more aesthetically pleasing of the two to watch? No, I wouldn’t say he was. I would however say he was the busier of the two who did just enough to win. To be swept on the scorecards is stretching reality, just a hair, but that's on the judges, not me.
Ultimately, the bout was too close to make a serious fuss over. I’m not angered in any way by the fact that Ellenberger was awarded the decision, he’s a game guy who always shows up to hurl leather, and he’s the owner of the kind of power that your “average” fighter would kill to possess.
He’s the kind of guy you really want to see fight. He’s just not the guy who should have won this bout.