Image via Esther Lin of MMA Fighting
Bart Palaszewski (36-14, 1-0 UFC).(25-4-2, 1-0 UFC) meets
Hioki is ranked at number two at featherweight in the USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings, while Palaszewski is currently holding down the number ten position. Hioki isn't really being discussed as a possible option for Jose Aldo due to his average UFC debut, but win a solid win here will mean the powers that be won't have much of a choice. And Bartimus can move into the top five and maybe get his own title shot by knocking off Hioki. This featherweight bout is the second fight of the main card, and will air live on pay per view. The PPV broadcast begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
How do these two stack up?
Hioki: 28 years old | 5'11" | 73" reach
Palaszewski: 28 years old | 5'9" | 70" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Hatsu Hioki is the best Japanese fighter you've barely heard of. The Shooto mainstay made his way over to Canada way back in 2006 and took out Mark Hominick to win the TKO featherweight belt, and defended it in a rematch. After that he went back to Japan and ran through the Sengoku featherweight tourney, before getting injured in the semis and forced out. He took on the eventual winner (and current UFC featherweight) Michihiro Omigawa shortly afterwards, and got totally robbed by the judges. Ain't no thing for Hatsu though. He just went back and took the Shooto belt again, then eventually stepped back up and took the Sengoku belt too by methodically taking apart Marlon Sandro. His UFC debut against George Roop wasn't awesome, but don't be fooled - Hioki is one of the best fighters you'll ever see. And he's one win away for a date with Scarface.
Bart "Bartimus" Palaszewski is an enigma. He lost the first four fights of his career, then went 26-3 over the next three years. His IFL run started with a lot of promise, but three straight losses derailed his hype and left him out in the cold. He was brought into the WEC, but his run there started off unevenly as well when he dropped two out of his first three fights. A second chance and a controversial win over fellow UFC 144 competitor Anthony Pettis re-ignited his career though, and two more wins didn't hurt either. Once again though he didn't fight up to his potential and dropped a split-decision to Kamal Shalorus in the last WEC event. He was brought over to the UFC, but decided to cut to a thinner (no pun intended) featherweight division and made the most of his debut, knocking out Tyson Griffin at UFC 137. He now finds himself one fight away from the title shot he has always desired, but he faces a stiff test in the crafty Hioki.
Why should you care?
The winner of this bout is likely going to dance with Jose Aldo later on in the year. This bout is insanely hard to predict, with two fighters that aren't always 100% mentally there competing in the biggest matchup of their lives. No one has any idea what will happen, and that's why it's worth watching.
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