Photo by Nick Laham/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
UFC Featherweight Hatsu Hioki came to Atlantic City as the #1 contender for Jose ALdo's title. He actually declined a title shot because he felt he "wasn't ready." After a three round affair against the unheralded Ricardo Lamas in which Hioki was anything but dominant, Lamas took a unanimous decision to take Hioki's title shot away.
Hioki forced Lamas up against the cage early and tried for an ankle pick then segued to the over-unders where he got the take down. Lamas reversed but Hioki was comfortable and aggressive from guard then got an omaplata but Lamas fought and Hioki ended up laced across Lamas' shoulders. Lamas managed to stand and go flying into the mat. Lamas fought free from the clinch and fended off a judo toss with a good whizzer. They stood back to the over-under clinch where Hioki once again tripped Lamas. From side mount Hioki landed elbows and punches. Lamas rolled into half-guard. Hioki attacked for a kimura and ended the round on top.
They traded strikes to open the second. Hioki landed some front kicks but Lamas returned fire with a combination. Hioki shot in and Lamas fended it off and landed a combination of punches and kicks on the break. Hioki took Lamas down and Lamas locked in a very tight arm-in guillotine but Hioki got free. Hioki worked from half-guard but Lamas defended well. Hioki tried to slice through Lamas' guard but Lamas got full guard briefly. Hioki got back to half guard but Lamas attacked with another tight guillotine. Hioki ended the round on top.
Lamas came out kicking in the third. Hioki forced him back with front kicks but Lamas had the initiative striking. Hioki shot in at around 1:50 and Lamas went for a tight arm-in guillotine that Hioki struggled to get free of. After a minute, Lamas lost the hold. Hioki stalled out in Lamas' guard and Lamas patted his ribs over and over again with perfunctory punches as the round ended.
Here's what Fraser Coffeen had to say in his primer before the fight:
Hatsu Hioki (26-4-2; 2-0 UFC) has been considered to be next in line for Jose Aldo ever since his UFC debut at UFC 137. But the former TKO, Shooto, and Sengoku champion has opted to take more fights to get acclimated to the UFC before challenging for the belt. While he definitely looked more comfortable in his second UFC outing at UFC 144, waiting for a shot is a risky proposition. Already, Hioki may have been leapfrogged in line by The Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung, and now Lamas will look to play spoiler. Ricardo Lamas (11-2; 2-0 UFC) is just a 4 year pro, but has good experience in both the WEC and UFC. He's looked good in his two UFC wins, but is facing a real step up in competition here. He's here to give Hioki a win, which means he has nothing to lose.