The only welterweight fight on the preliminary card pits two wrestlers against each other, as Strikeforce transplant Tyron Woodley (10-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) makes his UFC debut against Jay Hieron (23-6 MMA, 0-3 UFC), who has competed in UFC, Strikeforce, and Bellator. Both men are coming off a loss, but Hieron in particular almost certainly faces a likely UFC release if he fails to get a win in the Octagon for a 4th time over two separate stints.
This was originally supposed to be Brazilian prospect Erick Silva going up against the veteran Hieron, but a Silva injury meant an earlier UFC debut for Woodley than expected. UFC 156 prelims on FX air live at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT, leading into the PPV broadcast at its usual 10 PM ET/7 PM PT timeslot.
How do these two stack up?
Hieron: 36 years old | 6'0" | 75" reach
Woodley: 30 years old | 5'9" | 73" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Hieron is a long-time competitor in the sport, and he's still managing to compete at a respectable level at age 36. He is just about the only fighter who has come close to defeating Bellator WW champion Ben Askren. Just to get there he had to win the season 4 tournament, which included wins over Rick Hawn and Brent Weedman. Jay's return to the UFC was scheduled for UFC 151 against Jake Ellenberger following an injury to Josh Koscheck, but it was postponed to October following the event's cancellation. Hieron was able to ride out a respectable if not unremarkable decision defeat, but it marked his 3rd UFC loss in as many fights, dating back to his first run back in 2004-05. His style is centered around his wrestling, and he'll need that against someone like Woodley.
Woodley is a former high school wrestling champion out of Missouri, and was a two-time All-American when he wrestled at the University of Missouri. He's fought in Strikeforce since 2009 (his 3rd pro fight), and notched wins over Tarec Saffiedine, Paul Daley, and Jordan Mein along the way. Woodley's style and grinding wrestling didn't win over fans, but he certainly made his case as one of SF's best welterweights, and with Nick Diaz in the UFC he and Nate Marquardt fought for the vacant welterweight title. After an entertaining 3 rounds which saw both Woodley and Marquardt trade knockdowns, it was Woodley who was KO'd by standing elbows in the 4th round.
Why should you care?
Hieron's pretty much hit his ceiling, but how well can Woodley compete in the UFC's welterweight division? And while this looks boring and bland on paper, there is always the odd fight where two wrestlers cancel each other out and we get a fun striking battle.