(Courtesy of Minhsu Wang.)
Jesse Taylor is undefeated in seven bouts in the year and a day since being dropped from the UFC. So it wasn’t unreasonable to take a fight with former IFL welterweight champion Jay Hieron on less than a week’s notice.
Taylor famously frittered away potential winnings from “The Ultimate Fighter” season seven on a drunken Las Vegas night and then submitted to CB Dolloway in his lone UFC appearance. The accelerated pace he’s taken on since, though, has kept him focused, grounded and most importantly, out of trouble. And he doesn’t plan to stop after making the most of this “awesome” opportunity.
“I just want to keep plugging away,” said Taylor. “I just look at it as another fight. The only thing is, its not your last fight—you’re only as good as you’re next fight.”
If Taylor’s only as good as his next fight—a replacement-status scrap with Hieron at Strikeforce’s latest Showtime offering on Aug. 15 from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. —then he may shed his UFC flunky status and seize a spot among respected 170-pound combatants. It’s something Taylor has dreamed of since he decided to be a professional athlete during his formative years. He was reminded of it when he returned to the sport’s grander stages of Japanese promotion Dream in July, only to see his fight end abruptly due to Dong Sik Yoon’s foot injury.
“I’m here to make a statement to prove to myself and the world what I can do,” said Taylor, “So I’m real fortunate.”
Taylor is eager to mix it up with “Thoroughbred” because they trained together when Taylor started in the sport roughly three years ago. It’s not a good evaluation of Taylor’s ability according to the Southern Californian, but he hopes Hieron recalls it and underestimates him.
“I know Jay’s a tough guy but I train with tough guys and I do pretty damn well,” said the Team Quest Temecula fighter. “So I’m really motivated and happy to be here especially on fast notice to step up.”
“If I bring what I really have, all my potential,” said Taylor, “I think I’ll prevail.”