Hatsu Hioki Vacates Shooto Title, Will Attend UFC 131Shooto Lightweight Champion Hatsu Hioki has officially vacated his Shooto title and may soon sign with a promotion in North America. The submission specialist, who also holds the Sengoku Featherweight Championship, will reportedly be in attendance at UFC 131 on June 11th in Vancouver.

Hioki has fought three times in North America before. All three bouts came in the former TKO promotion in Canada, where Hioki captured and defended the TKO Featherweight Championship with two wins over recent UFC title challenger Mark Hominick. His last TKO bout came in October 2008.

Hioki (24-4-2) is renowned for his grappling skills and has never been stopped in his MMA career. The long-time Shooto star has rarely strayed from his Shooto roots, but made headlines in 2006 when he choked out Hominick for the TKO title. Hioki defeated Hominick again in the pair’s rematch nine months later and submitted Thierry Quenneville in his final appearance for the now-defunct promotion.

More recently, Hioki has enjoyed success in Sengoku Raiden Championships, where his fights were televised on HDNet for a North American viewing audience. Hioki was one win away from capturing the Sengoku Featherweight Championship in August 2009, but an injury forced him out of the promotion’s featherweight tournament final. He went on to lose a highly controversial Split Decision to Michihiro Omigawa at Sengoku: “Eleventh Battle” three months later.

Hioki was finally able to capture Sengoku gold on December 30th with a dominant five-round decision win over then-champion Marlon Sandro at “Soul of Fight.” He defended his Shooto title on April 29th, but with options limited in Shooto and Sengoku’s future in doubt, the Nagoya native now has eyes on a return to competition in North America.

With the UFC Featherweight Championship currently held by José Aldo, a teammate of Sandro’s at Nova União, Hioki may soon have an opportunity to challenge Sandro’s stablemate if he signs with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and can win his way to a title shot. Prominent MMA manager Shu Hirata today told The Fight Show with Mauro Ranallo that Hioki will be in attendance at the upcoming UFC 131 event on June 11th, where he is expected to speak with UFC management.



(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)

  1. Bellator would be a better fit.