Japanese star Hatsu Hioki has signed with the UFC the promotion confirmed on Saturday.
Currently ranked as one of the top featherweights in the world, Hioki is a veteran of Shooto and Sengoku and was the featherweight champion in each promotion before vacating the titles in order to sign with the UFC.
Bringing an overall 24-4-2 record to the Octagon, Hioki will be a welcome addition to the 145lb mix and if he can adjust well to fighting outside of his native Japan then he could quickly find himself in the title picture along with the likes of Kenny Florian and Chad Mendes.
The deal strengthens the UFC’s roster of Japanese talent, with other recent additions including Michihiro Omigawa and ‘Kid’ Yamamato, while long-time UFC middleweight fighter Yushin Okami headlines UFC 134: Rio against Anderson Silva.
The UFC have been looking to strengthen their connection to Asia for some time and opened an office there last year. Meanwhile rumors persist that a UFC event will take place in Japan in the next year or so.