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After announcing his status as a free agent prematurely back in August, welterweight contender Jay Hieron is officially free from the clutches of a Strikeforce contract.

All signs point to Hieron returning to the UFC, where he dropped fights to Georges St. Pierre and Jonathan Goulet (via cut stoppage) a few years back. A quick look at his record will tell you that “The Thoroughbred” is currently riding a seven fight win streak, with the last three coming against UFC vets Joe Riggs, Jason High, and Jesse “Peepants” Taylor.

If Hieron does indeed sign with the largest MMA organization in the world, he’ll be joining a deep roster of welterweights that includes kingpin St. Pierre, perennial second-in-command Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Thiago Alves, Martin Kampmann, Dan Hardy, Carlos Condit, Paulo Thiago, Diego Sanchez, and recent acquisition Jake Shields. Fans of Hieron have been calling for his return to the UFC for years and, with the current shark tank status of the division, we’ll find out real quick whether Hieron is up to the challenge. 

My guess is he wins a decision over one of the middle-of-the-pack fighters before losing spectacularly to one of the boys at the top.