The featherweight division is rising to the occasion, and putting on a plethora of exciting fights, while diversifying the line-up, and thickening the roster. With Jose Aldo set to take on a lengthy Roufus Sport striker Erik Koch in the near future, and fan favorite ‘The Korean Zombie’ Chan-Sung Jung undergoing shoulder surgery, who is next? While Chad Mendes and Ricardo Lamas is another match to make, discussed here: more movement along the ranks must begin.
Hatsu Hioki is coming off a close decision loss to rising star Ricardo Lamas, while Charles Oliveira is reveling in his victory over Jonathan Brookins. Both men have cemented their claim to the top of the featherweight division. Hioki is a very methodical and often mysterious, breaking nearly all his opponents mentally. This allows his more technical abilities play out on the UFC stage. While Oliveira after his move from the lightweight ranks has risen quite fast, submitting all his lighter opponents. Is he ready for someone like Hioki?
Hioki’s career has been characterized by an overall well roundedness, which is quite rare in regards to his peers. In each of his fights, Hioki has a keen eye for the weaknesses of his opponents. While Hioki may not be the greatest in any particular area of MMA, he is dangerous where ever the fight may go. Hioki is astoundingly good in every realm in which the fight can take place. His striking isn’t incredibly powerful, or even fast, but his technique and set ups are far beyond many of the men he faces whom rely heavily on speed power. A power puncher and a knock out artist Hioki is not, but he does many times hurt or rock his opponents and seizes the opportunity. Hioki’s overall ground game is a feat for any man to overcome. In recent memory Ricardo Lamas is the only many to have the Japanese star in trouble. To Hioki’s credit did very well on the ground against Lamas, passing to side control, and taking him down many times. Even though Lamas does have superior wrestling credentials. In that fight Hioki showed a resolve, and will that is rarely seen in any sport, when defending the guillotines of Lamas. Lamas stated “That guy has got gills somewhere, because I don’t know where he was breathing from, He held his breath for like two minutes.” One thing that rarely gets mentioned about Hioki is how he has only lost by Decision. The man has never been finished, only losing by unanimous decision two times, the other three are split decisions. What you can be sure of when Hioki fights, he will constantly search for the finish, and will not make anything easy for his opponent.
Charles Oliveira or ‘Do Bronx’ as many have known him, is known as young rising Brazilian on the featherweight battle grounds. Already he claims a record of sixteen wins, two losses, and one no contest. Oliveira only has two fights currently at the new weight class, and he has been quite dominant in his appearances to say the least. Oliveira has been finished, but both times he was at lightweight, and his opponents were none other than Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, and Jim Miller. In both cases, he was just a bit too green for the two veterans, but still managed to get off quite an offense in his own right.
A seventy-three inch reach, and a five, feet ten inch frame, Oliveira is one of the longest and biggest featherweights on the scene. His striking has made leaps and bounds since joining the Zuffa roster (still very good to begin with), as well as his take down offense, and defense. Oliveira's submissions have always been very scrappy and technical, and his long limbs allow him to create leverage have the ability to. While he was humbled by the lightweight beasts mentioned earlier, Oliveira has since learned his lessons elevating his defense to a new level. All around Oliveira is still very young turning twenty-three this year(still twenty-two), he is like a sponge walking out more and more impressive with each announcement of his name by Bruce Buffer.
If these two men are to meet, the fans can be assured that excitement will flow from the octagon to throughout the stadium. This is a matchup that can really lay a hierarchy in the up and coming featherweight division, and can counter those who call it weak, and thin. Only thing left is for Joe Silva, Sean Shelby, and Dana White to see this.
cites: getty images, The ultimate fighter 15 finale post fight interview (lamas)