It wasn’t that long ago, when MMA pundits and die hard fans were thrilled to hear that Hatsu Hioki was the latest addition to the UFC’s featherweight division, due to the fact he was the man over in Japan. Although the former Shooto and Sengoku champ didn’t storm through George Roop or take out Bart Palaszewski, Hioki did what he needed to do and won his first two UFC bouts.
Then, the vet decided to fight Ricardo Lamas instead of champion Jose Aldo, and proceeded to lose by unanimous decision (although it’s worth noting Lamas went on to bomb out Erik Koch next). Now, after losing by split decision to Clay Guida in January, Hioki’s not even ranked in the UFC’s top ten. If he comes up short against Darren Elkins at UFC Fight Night 27 on August 28th, he most likely will receive his walking papers. That’s certainly not the way Hioki envisioned his UFC career going.
So, what is Hioki doing to prepare for Elkins, who is also a pretty talented wrestler like Lamas and Guida? Hioki recently told MMA Junkie.com:
“My team and I have studied on Mr. Elkins a bit, and I have trained in physical strength to counter his wrestling skills,” Hioki said. “He has a strong heart and great stamina, so I greatly admire him as my opponent. It will be a tough fight, but I should be able to deal with what he brings to the octagon if I fight with my skill set. I don’t feel he has whole a lot of anything that would surprise me, but I do (for him).”
In addition, Hioki also relayed he still believes he has what it takes to make run in the UFC, despite his recent setbacks.
“I know I possess skills that will again make me a top contender. I just need some adjustments. My immediate goal is to beat Mr. Elkins and go from there.”
That’s huge bout for both guys, as Elkins is coming off a KO loss to Chad Mendes after winning five straight. UFC Fight Night 27 will be hosted by the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1.