Any doubts that Hatsu Hioki wasn’t worthy of being ranked near the top of the featherweight Top 10 rankings fell to the wayside at UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson at Saitama Super Arena in Japan on Saturday night.
Hioki’s first trip to the UFC Octagon ended in a debated split decision victory over George Roop. The Japanese fighter still had to go the distance with Bart Palaszewski at UFC 144, but there wasn’t anything controversial about it. Hioki walked out of the cage with a unanimous decision.
From the opening bell, Hioki more than held his own on the feet with Palaszewski, who is known for being a solid kickboxer. Hioki used a strong jab, mixing in some kicks, to move Palaszewski around the cage until he could time his takedowns.
More often than not, Hioki was successful with his takedowns, dominating once they hit the mat. He nearly finished Palaszewski with an armbar in the opening round, then dominated with a combination of ground and pound and choke attempts from the back in round three.
“There’s lots of room for me to improve more, so I’ll try to improve more,” said Hioki after the fight, but added, “I think I truly showed what I’ve trained for a long time.”
Currently sitting No. 3 in the MMAWeekly.com World Top 10 MMA Rankings, it shouldn’t be long before Hioki is stepping into the Octagon for a shot at UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo.