Hatsu Hioki sealed an impressive decision win over Bart Palaszewski tonight at UFC 144 that showed off his developing stand-up game and dominant grappling skills.
Hioki barely put a foot wrong in the first round. surprisingly he first made an impact on the feet as he landed a crisp jab that knocked Palaszewski to the mat for a brief moment.
He continued to press forward on the offensive and he was mixing up his punches and kicks more fluidly than we’ve seen from him in the past.
He then smoothly switched things up by successfully switching to a takedown, and it was on the mat that his best moments of the round would come.
Firstly he shook off a guillotine choke from Palaszewski. Then he slickly glided into side control and attempted to trap him in the crucifix position, and though he couldn’t quite lock it up he was still able to stifle his opponent enough to rain down some unanswered blows to his head.
Then came a beautiful submission sequence as Hioki looked for an armbar on top, then rolled him over and really extended that limb, but Palaszewski defended well and Hioki transitioned to an omaplata and then reversed the position again so he ended up on top.
Onto round two and after the action and excitement of the first this one was a little more straight-forward and slower paced.
Essentially just a striking battle Hioki was still doing well, but Palaszewski also was finding his rhythm and pieced together some nice combinations during the round making this one fairly even and it’ll be interesting to see how the judges score it if we get to that stage.
Onto the third and Hioki wisely decided not to just indulge Palaszewski in the striking battle, pressing forward and getting the clinch against the fence before taking him down to the canvas.
Hioki methodically worked to improve his position after initially finding himself in half-guard, and eventually managed to seize his back.
Locking in the body triangle Palaszewski was going nowhere, but Hioki couldn’t find a finish in the time that was left and had to settle for a very dominant round that should win him the fight.
Onto the judges scorecards then and unsurprisingly they see it unanimously in Hioki’s favor (30-27, 29-28 x2).
This was a much better performance from Hioki than his UFC debut and now a title fight against current featherweight champion Jose Aldo begins to make a lot more sense.