Updated: February 28, 2012, 6:07 AM ET
By staff |
Monday, Feb. 27
Weight Class:

Hatsu Hioki has sort of floated around as a theoretical No. 2 in the UFC's featherweight division ever since Jose Aldo knocked out Chad Mendes at UFC 142. Problem is, the "Iron Broom" is largely an unknown contender in the States, in a division that is still well behind in marketability to the heavier weight classes that are chock full of stars. Did Hioki's good showing at UFC 144 in his native Japan bolster his chance at a title shot? Maybe, but to hear Dana White afterward, maybe not.

Hioki himself said he was in no rush for a title shot, and within a few hours of showing the UFC PPV hordes why he is a force to be reckoned with by downing Bart Palaszewski in a one-sided decision, he looked like a long shot to get the bid. Of course, this was aided by the situation with Frankie Edgar, who lost his title to Benson Henderson and was all but being nudged by president White to drop down to 145 pounds for a "fun fight" with Aldo. If that happens, the featherweight division will be the next to hold a "superfight-like" event since UFC 94, when B.J. Penn came up to welterweight to challenge Georges St. Pierre.

With Dustin Poirier locked into a battle with Chan Sung Jung, perhaps what lurks next for Hioki is a showdown with Erik Koch. If he can defeat a guy like "New Breed," chances are the UFC would feel he's ready for that tilt with Aldo. Or, you know, Frankie Edgar.