UFC 144 Fight Card Primer: Hatsu Hioki Vs. Bart Palaszewski

Image via Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

The great Japanese hope versus the overachieving veteran. While many people would have predicted that the best Japanese featherweight in the world would eventually be one fight away from challenging UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo for his title, how many people figured it'd be an average IFL lightweight across the cage from him in that pivotal battle? Times, they change quickly. Hatsu Hioki (25-4-2, 1-0 UFC) meets Bart Palaszewski (36-14, 1-0 UFC).

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 UFC 144 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?

Hioki: W - George Roop (SD) | W - Donald Sanchez (SUB) | W - Marlon Sandro (UD)
Palaszewski: W - Tyson Griffin (KO) | L - Kamal Shalorus (SD) | W - Zach Micklewright (KO)

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.

You can catch more UFC 144 preview content from Bloody Elbow after the jump.

SBN coverage of UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson

UFC 144: Rampage Jackson Misses Weight By Five Pounds, Loses 20% Of Purse While Fight Goes On - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144 Weigh-In Video And Coverage - Tim Burke

UFC 144: Anthony Pettis Vs. Joe Lauzon Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144: The Bloody Elbow Judo Chops Of Frankie Edgar Vs. Ben Henderson - Fraser Coffeen

UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Staff Predictions - Tim Burke

UFC 144: Jake Shields Wants UFC To Make Sure Yoshihiro Akiyama Doesn't Cheat - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144: Yushin Okami Vs. Tim Boetsch Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144 Video: Dana White Video Blog Episode 2 - Kid Nate

UFC 144: Rampage Jackson On The Streets Of Tokyo - Kid Nate

UFC 144: Dana White Wants You To Know The UFC Didn't Kill PRIDE - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144: The Epic Drama Of Yoshihiro Akiyama - Fraser Coffeen

UFC 144: Is Frankie Edgar Being Underrated Against Ben Henderson? - Fraser Coffeen

UFC 144: Hatsu Hioki Vs. Bart Palaszewski Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144 Roundtable: Can The UFC Succeed In Japan? - Tim Burke

UFC 144 Predictions: Pros Slightly Favor Frankie Edgar To Beat Ben Henderson - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144: Takanori Gomi Vs. Eiji Mitsuoka Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144 Judo Chop: Benson Henderson And The Miracle of Survival Part 2 of 2 - Ben Thapa

UFC 144 Video: Under PRIDE Rules, Rampage Jackson Dominates Fight Against Ryan Bader - Anton Tabuena

UFC 144 Video: Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson Fight Simulation And Prediction - Anton Tabuena

UFC 144 Pre-Fight Press Conference Video - Tim Burke

UFC 144: Yoshihiro Akiyama Leads The UFC Back To Japan - Kid Nate

UFC 144: Should The Winner Of Joe Lauzon Vs. Anthony Pettis Get The Next Title Shot? - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144: Norifumi 'Kid' Yamamoto Vs. Vaughan Lee Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144: Riki Fukuda Vs. Steve Cantwell Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144 Judo Chop: Benson Henderson And The Miracle Of Survival Part 1 of 2 - Ben Thapa

UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Countdown Show Full Video - Anton Tabuena

UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Betting Lines - Tim Burke

UFC 144: Rampage Jackson Is A Death Sentence For Ryan Bader According To Michael Bisping - Brent Brookhouse

UFC 144 Manga-Style Promo Video - Kid Nate

UFC 144: Takeya Mizugaki Vs. Chris Cariaso Dissection - Dallas Winston

UFC 144: Tiequan Zhang Vs. Issei Tamura Dissection - Dallas Winston

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