After turning down a title fight at UFC with featherweight champion Jose Aldo earlier in 2012, Hatsu Hioki has now officially thrown that title fight away.
The main event of the preliminary fights in Atlantic City featured an important featherweight bout between the Japanese star, Hioki, and Ricardo Lamas. Hioki, a -175 favorite going into the fight, was expected by most to walk away with what would have been the third UFC win of his career.
Unfortunately for him and his fans, it was Lamas’ aggression that the judges seemed to favor as they opted to give the unanimous decision to the American by a score of 29-28.
Hioki had previously been considered the No. 2 featherweight in the world by most sources. UFC President Dana White has offered him a title fight, but Hioki turned it down due to his own belief that he was not quite ready to fight for the title.
Apparently he was right.
Nevertheless, Hioki should have taken the title fight anyway. If he didn’t think he was ready to fight Aldo before, did he really think that a win over a fighter who was barely in the top 25 was going to get him to that level?
The career of an MMA fighter is a short one and the decision to turn down a title fight is something that doesn’t often happen. This is because most fighters understand that if they don’t take the opportunity when it presents itself, it may never come again. In the case of Hioki, following this loss, it certainly won’t come anytime soon.
At 28 years old, Hioki likely only has a few more years of performing at his physical peak before his body begins to deteriorate on him with age... and that’s assuming he does not suffer an injury during that timeframe.
Because of the lack of real competition at 145 pounds, Hioki will now see his ranking fall significantly after a rather disappointing performance. Don’t count him out of getting a title fight eventually, but he’s going to have to improve his overall game significantly and string together some wins if he wants to get in that conversation again.
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