With a dominating performance against Bart Palaszewski at UFC 144, Hatsu Hioki added fuel to the debate as to when the Japanese star should receive a title shot.
Widely regarded as the second-best featherweight in the world, Hioki could very well be next in line for champion Jose Aldo.
That is the exact reason the UFC brought Hioki in—to challenge for Aldo's title. Does Hikoi have the skills to take the title to Japan? Or would Aldo keep the belt in Brazil?
Jose Aldo has been a menace for anyone that's had the unfortunate privilege to be on the receiving end of his strikes.
The champion has lightning quick hands and thunderous leg kicks. He also uses good head movement to make his opponents miss and tire them out.
Hatsu Hioki has four wins via KO, but is much more of a ground fighter. If Hioki can't get the fight to the mat, look for Aldo to punish him on his feet.
In his bout with Bart Palaszewski, Hioki ate far too many kicks, and while he got away with it at UFC 144, taking too many of Aldo's kicks is not a good recipe for winning.
One new item that Hatsu Hioki will bring to a matchup with Jose Aldo are the clinch takedowns. Hioki won't be shooting for double legs in much the way that we've seen previous challengers, but rather attempt to utilize the clinch to take the fight to the mat.
It won't be easy, as Aldo has some of the best takedown defense in all of MMA and is huge for 145 pounds. Besides being the bigger and likely stronger fighter, Aldo also possesses deadly knees.
If Hioki can manage to get a clinch, look for either Aldo to create space or utilize his dangerous knees to batter Hioki's body and face.
Aldo won't be used to seeing takedowns from the clinch, but I have to believe his TDD will be more than enough to neutralize Hioki's trips or throws.
Jose Aldo may have a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, but it's obvious that he prefers to KO his opponents on their feet. Against Mark Hominick, Aldo was forced to fight off of his back and to his credit, Aldo did attempt a few submissions despite being visibly gassed.
Hatsu Hioki has a style that is the complete opposite of Aldo's. Hioki looks to use his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in order to get the tapout, evident by Hioki's 12 wins via submission. He's submitted some of the best featherweights in the world like Mark Hominick, so there's no denying Hioki has the ability to tap Aldo out.
This is where Hioki stands the best chance to beat Aldo. Both men have skills as far as submissions go but I'd have to give a slight edge to Hioki just based on the fact we've seen him utilize his BJJ skills more often.
Advantage: slightly to Hioki
Although new to most UFC fans, Hatsu Hioki has made a name for himself within the Sengoku and Shooto promotions. He's beaten the likes of Marlon Sandro, Jeff Curran and Mark Hominick (twice).
Jose Aldo is a young superstar at just 25 years old, but he's beaten a who's-who in the featherweight division. His victories against top featherweights like Mark Hominick, Urijah Faber and most recently Chad Mendes all highlight a very successful career.
Hioki has more fights, but Aldo has faced tougher competition more recently.
Jose Aldo just has too many weapons for Hatsu Hioki to handle. Aldo has great physical talents and amazing takedown defense.
Hioki won't win a standup battle and I don't believe he has the ability to take Aldo off his feet. The Brazilian would be able to keep the fight standing and it would be only a matter of time before we witness another highlight reel KO.