After a shaky UFC debut, the former Sengoku featherweight champion impressed in his second outing against Bart Palaszewski at UFC 144 on Saturday night.
Hioki, who is known for his world class grappling, relied on his much improved striking to outland Palaszewski on the feet and pick up a convincing unanimous decision. In a division hurting for fresh contenders, Hioki's performance definitely warrants a shot at UFC gold.
Is he up for the task?
The featherweight division oozes with great up and coming talent, but even so, Aldo's dominance over nearly every major name at 145-pounds has crippled a once star-studded division.
Hioki represents an interesting threat to Aldo, but after seeing the champ's performance against Chad Mendes at UFC 142, it would seem that threat has somewhat diminished.
The primary question mark surrounding Aldo has always been his wrestling.
It had to be demoralizing for the rest of the division to see the Brazilian shrug off every attempt from Mendes, who is arguably the best grappler at 145-pounds.
If Hioki can't get the fight to the ground, it's going to be a major uphill battle in trying to outwit one of the best strikers in the world in the standup exchanges.
This fight spells doom for Hioki on paper, but the most enticing aspect of MMA has always been its unpredictable nature.
Hioki is as ready as he'll ever be, and it definitely makes sense to put him in the cage with the UFC champion. As for whether or not he's up for the task, that question can be answered with another question.
Is anyone up for the task of dethroning Aldo?