When Hatsu Hioki made his UFC debut in October he entered the Octagon as one of the few fighters viewed as posing a potential challenge to featherweight champion Jose Aldo. However, after barely outpointing George Roop in a bout many felt could have gone the other way the 25-4 Hioki exited the eight-sided cage with a number of questions surrounding how deserving he was of the pre-fight hype.
One of the people left with a bad taste in his mouth happens to be the man Hioki will attempt to answer his critics against, Bart Palaszewski. The two will tussle in a week at UFC 144 as part of a main card featuring six other scraps including a main event between lightweight title-holder Frankie Edgar and surging star Benson Henderson.
Palaszewski recently addressed his match-up with Hioki in an interview with the UFC’s website where he blankly stated, “If his last fight impressed anyone, they have got to be a hardcore Hatsu Hioki fan. I mean, personally, I think he lost the fight, and I hope he performs the same way against me.”
“Bartimus” also fought on the same card as Hioki, knocking out Tyson Griffin in the opening round. Still, even prior to watching Hioki’s lackluster outing against Roop the 28-year old had expressed interest in facing him.
“Hioki’s actually a fight we asked for,” said Palaszewski. “Before my fights, I always make up my list with my coaches and my management — guys we’re going to go after in case I lose or if I win a fight. We got to turn the winning list into the UFC last time, and Hioki was at the top of the list.”
With Hioki on the cusp of challenging for Aldo’s title, Palaszewski also recognizes the stakes at hand if he’s able to pick up another victory over a ranked opponent, though admits that doesn’t mean he’s set his sights on a clash with the explosive Brazilian.
“I think a win over Hioki will definitely propel me to being in the running, but I’m not looking past Hioki,” explained Palaszewski. “He’s a tough dude, obviously; he’s a top contender. He’s Top 5 in the world, he’s got an amazing record, (and) he’s got everything backing him up, so I’m just looking at him, concentrating on him 100 percent.”
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC/SUCKERPUNCH ENTERTAINMENT