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Jay Hieron Signs With Bellator

Jay Hieron isn't re-signing with the UFC after all.

After patiently waiting for his Strikeforce contract to expire, many expected the veteran to come to terms with the organization he fought for in 2004 and 2005.

However, late Monday evening, upstart Bellator announced that they had signed the former IFL 170-pound champion and that he would be a part of their Season 4 welterweight tournament in 2011.

"It's just a great fit for me," Hieron stated in a release. "At this point in my career, I want to stay as active as possible, and the tournament format allows me to do that. It's a great organization, and it's just the perfect fit."

The 34-year-old Hieron, 19-4, joins Dan Hornbuckle, Rick Hawn, Steve Carl, Chris Lozano, Jim Wallhead and Brent Weedman in the tournament. There is currently one more slot open. The last man standing will face current Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren later in the year.

There is no announced start date for Bellator's upcoming fourth season.

Hieron, a New Yorker who now trains out of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, has won his last seven fights in a row. His last win came against Joe Riggs in January at Strikeforce: Miami, which it was believed set him up for a title shot against Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz. That, of course, never materialized.

Hieron told MMA Fighting's Mike Chiappetta in August that he was "definitely" fighting again in 2010, but with no further Bellator events scheduled for this year, that may be hard to pull off.

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