Hatsu Hioki To Face Bart Palaszewski At UFC 144 In JapanJapanese standout Hatsu Hioki will compete on home soil for his second bout inside the Octagon. Hioki has agreed to face ten-year veteran Bart “Bartimus” Palaszewski at UFC 144 on February 26, 2012 in Saitama, Japan. MMAWeekly.com first reported the planned bout on Sunday.

Hioki eked out a razor-thin Split Decision win over George Roop in his UFC debut three weeks ago. The former Shooto, TKO and Sengoku champion has tasted defeat just once in his past 15 fights. Palaszewski has won five of six and scored a first-round knockout of Tyson Griffin at UFC 137.

Hioki (25-4-2) is regarded as one of the top Japanese fighters in mixed martial arts and his ground game is among the best in the featherweight division. He brought a four-fight winning streak into his UFC 137 debut against Roop, but struggled with his opponent’s reach advantage and ability to scramble on the ground. Roop defended against Hioki’s limited submission attempts and looked to have spoiled his UFC debut, but Hioki was awarded a somewhat contentious Split Decision victory. He will look to put on a better showing in his sophomore Octagon appearance against the hard-hitting Palaszewski, whose ground game is also solid.

Palaszewski (36-14-0) debuted in the WEC in late 2008 after a lengthy stint in the IFL. He was able to win just one of his first three fights for the promotion, but after a win outside of the WEC, Palaszewski returned and picked up a huge victory over future WEC champ Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. He went on to win two more times before dropping a Split Decision at the final WEC event last year. After close to a year of inactivity, Palaszewski made his UFC debut last month and destroyed former top lightweight contender Griffin in the first round. A victory over the renowned Hioki could place Palaszewski on a short list of title contenders at 145 pounds.

UFC 144 takes place on February 26, 2012 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The event features a UFC Lightweight Championship bout between Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and former WEC champion Ben “Smooth” Henderson.



(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)