Hatsu Hioki will be part of the UFC’s return to Japan. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson
Japanese featherweight standout Hatsu Hioki didn’t have to wait long for a UFC fight on home soil.
Only three weeks removed from a successful Octagon debut, the former Sengoku and Shooto titleholder has agreed to square off against another UFC 137 winner, WEC import Bart Palaszewski. Sherdog.com confirmed Monday with a source close to the bout that both men have verbally agreed to the contest, which was first reported Sunday by MMAWeekly.com.
The 145-pound affair will be part of UFC 144, an event expected to take place Feb. 26 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Hioki was only 17 years old when last the UFC trekked to Japan in December 2000 for UFC 29.
Now 28, Nagoya native Hioki has made a name for himself as one of the world’s finest featherweights while compiling a 25-4-2 career mark. Entering the UFC on a four-fight hot streak, the “Iron Broomstick” looked less than phenomenal in outpointing George Roop on Oct. 29. Nonetheless, Hioki emerged with a split-decision victory, adding Roop’s name to a ledger which includes wins over Marlon Sandro, “Lion” Takeshi Inoue and Masanori Kanehara.
A longtime student of fellow UFC talent Jeff Curran, 50-fight veteran Palaszewski holds a 36-14 record after nearly a decade in the sport, as well as a 5-3 mark under Zuffa employ. The Poland-born Illinoisan also made his UFC debut on Oct. 29, when he recorded a blistering first-round knockout of former lightweight contender Tyson Griffin.