At UFC on Fuel TV 3, Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier and the “Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung will duke it out to further their ascension to the featherweight division’s top rung currently occupied by Jose “Scarface” Aldo. However, come fight night, the victor will not be rewarded with the No. 1 contender’s spot.
As Erik Koch is scheduled to face-off against the assemblage’s premier fighter at UFC 149, the likely contender for the aforementioned slot is Japanese denizen Hatsu Hioki.
The former Shooto and Sengoku titlist is currently the No. 2 fighter in the UFC’S 145-pound weight class, and is 2-0 in the Zuffa-based promotion.
With that in mind, I believe he warrants an immediate shot at the championship, just as long as he gets past Ricardo Lamas at UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida on June 22.
However, in the likelihood that Hatsu were to lose his upcoming clash, then either Poirier (12-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) or the Korean Zombie (12-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) who steamrolled Mark Hominick in seven seconds and submitted Leonard Garcia via twister will be next in line for a tilt at Aldo’s coveted crown.
Diego Nunes would’ve been in with a shout, but he scuppered his chances of moving up the rankings when he lost a unanimous decision to Denis Siver at UFC on Fuel TV 2.
Chad Mendes is also out of the reckoning, as he recently lost to Aldo at UFC 142.
Save for Hatsu, no else fits the bill.