Hatsu Hioki entered the night just as he had entered the UFC, the consensus No. 1 challenger to Jose Aldo's UFC featherweight title. Hioki actually refused a title shot and was put in a no-win situation against the tough Ricardo Lamas during the UFC on FX 4 prelims.
Hioki needed an impressive showing to validate his place at the top of the featherweight division's title challengers, but the end result was anything of the sort. The Japanese star was controlled for much of the fight despite landing a handful of takedowns.
Lamas played the role of spoiler very well as he knew there was nothing to lose in this matchup that ended with winning by a unanimous 29-28 decision.
What We Will Remember About This Fight
Fans will likely remember the series of grappling exchanges between the two men that produced some great displays of talent. Hioki was able to secure some takedowns and ended two rounds in top position but was simply outworked by Lamas.
What We Learned about Hatsu Hioki
Is this another example of international hype overrating a guy? Hioki was brought in to give Aldo a fresh face to challenge and had earned two UFC victories prior to the event tonight. His first showing was very shaky but his bout at UFC 144 was a takedown clinic.
Hioki just saw a number of guys leap over him in the featherweight rankings and will definitely have a tough road ahead of him.
What We Learned About Ricardo Lamas
Despite the fact that Hioki was widely expected to dominate Lamas, the Chicago-based fighter showed a lot of mental toughness and was game for the challenge. The Japanese star certainly had his moments in the fight but Lamas proved he wanted to win this fight more than Hioki.
Although Lamas was able to fend off a number of takedowns from Hioki, he can't allow his opponent to finish the round in top position. We've seen judges reward crazy decisions for simple facts just like that.
What's Next For Hatsu Hioki
Not saying no to Dana White has to top the list. Instead of getting an UFC title shot, Hioki will likely find himself on a few more preliminary bouts or, at best, on the main card of a non-PPV show. Hioki openly admitted he wasn't ready, but he was playing a dangerous game and lost.
What's Next for Ricardo Lamas
Lamas showed up to ruin Hioki's party and did so in impressive fashion. After three straight impressive outings, I believe it's time for Lamas to face some more top-tier talent. He should vault up the rankings and face another top-five guy.
A bout with "The Korean Zombie" sure would be a blast to watch.
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