It appears that International Fighter League (IFL) veteran Jay Hieron is the "frontrunner" to take on Nick Diaz in a 170-pound match at Strikeforce: "Carano vs. Cyborg" from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., on Aug. 15, according to GracieFighter.com.
Hieron -- who was training to fight Paul "Semtex" Daley this weekend at Affliction: "Trilogy" this weekend before the promotion folded -- apparently beat out Phil Baroni as a late replacement for Joe Riggs.
"Diesel" was hospitalized and forced out of the rematch against Diaz last week, which was supposed to be for Strikeforce’s newly created welterweight title. Promotion officials did not immediately confirm the possible Diaz-Hieron bout or whether or not a welterweight title would be up for grabs on fight night.
Diaz comes into this fight on an absolute tear. Aside from dismantling the clearly-overmatched Scott Smith at June’s "Lawler vs. Shields" event, the Cesar Gracie-disciple busted up the legendary Frank Shamrock en route to a second round TKO at the last San Jose-based event back in April.
The Stockton, Calif., native is riding a five-fight win streak and has finished each of his opponents in dominating fashion
Hieron is also currently enjoying a five fight winning streak, including his most recent first round knockout win over the previously unbeaten Jason High on the Affliction: "Day of Reckoning" card back in January.
The Xtreme Couture trainee was a staple under the now defunct IFL, fighting nine times for the promotion in a span of just under two years. Since then, however, "The Thoroughbred" has only been in action twice, defeating High earlier this year and also out-pointing Chris Kennedy en route to a unanimous decision victory at a "Super Fights MMA" event last October.
Hieron and Diaz were actually rumored to face off at the Strikeforce event back in June; however, the promotion instead ended up booking Scott Smith as Diaz’s opponent for the event. It was a fight that Hieron wanted real bad at the time.
That’s because he was part of KJ Noons corner the night he and Diaz had that melee in the cage following KJ’s technical knockout win over Yves Edwards at Elite XC: "Return of the King." There’s even video footage of Hieron throwing a punch at the Cesar Gracie-trained black belt.
Now he may get another opportunity to do that several times over, and much more, on Aug. 15.
Strikeforce: "Carano vs. Cyborg" will feature a 145-pound title fight between female fighting sensation Gina "Conviction" Carano and her nemesis Cristiane "Cyborg" Santos as well as a lightweight title unification bout between reigning champ Josh "The Punk" Thomson and interim champ Gilbert "El Nino" Melendez.
For all the latest on this still-developing fight card click here.