Can Hioki break the UFC’s Japanese curse?

by Kevin Iole | source:

There was a time when many fans thought the Japanese stars of Pride were superior to the best Americans in the UFC. And maybe they were. With the demise of Pride, and the lack of a major promotion on Japanese soil, for years now the best Japanese fighters have joined the UFC amid great fanfare. They have invariably returned home with a diminished reputation.

Yoshihiro Akiyama
The middleweight was 12-1 when he joined the UFC in 2009. After scoring a highly controversial decision over Alan Belcher at UFC 100, Akiyama has lost three in a row.

Michihiro Omigawa
0-4 in the UFC.

Caol Uno
Dominant in Japan, but 3-5-2 in two stints in the UFC.

Kid Yamamoto, Takanori Gomi, Takeya Mizugaki
Combined record outside of the UFC is 60-10-2. Including Mizugaki’s five fights in the WEC, those three are 5-8 in UFC/WEC competition.

Shinya Aoki
Lightweight ran roughshod over Japanese competition, but  was manhandled by Gilbert Melendez in Strikeforce.

Now another acclaimed Japanese fighter is coming to the Octagon. Hatsu Hioki is 24-4, ranked No. 3 in the world by MMA Weekly, and fights George Roop on Saturday at UFC 137.

Hioki, who hopes to make a run and land a title shot against UFC champion Jose Aldo Jr., has a simple explanation for his countrymen’s lack of success in the UFC.

“It’s a different game, a different kind of MMA,” he said.

The primary differences between Japanese MMA and the Unified Rules are teh cage and elbows to the face and head.

Hioki fought three times in the Montreal-based TKO, beating Thierry Quenneville and current UFC featherweight contender Mark Hominick, twice.

“I feel like I’m as ready as I have ever been for this,” Hioki said. “Beating Sandro was a great confidence boost for me. He’s a very, very tough guy and to get a win over a guy like that, it let me know I was ready to make this move.

“I don’t know what it is going to be like for sure because I haven’t fought [in the UFC] yet, but I think I’ve done all I can do to be ready and to be the best I can be for it.”

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tags: UFC   Hatsu Hioki (detail)  


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Recent Comments »

Rafael135 site profile image  

10/28/11 11:12 AM by Rafael135

I doubt it has anything to do with body type.It's because of their training. Japanese fighters need to have more diversity of fighting styles in their training. Japanese fighters need to come to US where there are many strong wrestlers. Japanese fighters tend to train with other Japanese fighters and their fighting styles are very similar, they are either judo or jiu jitsu practitioners and their striking is not impressive at all.

Gsnitsky site profile image  

10/28/11 10:42 AM by Gsnitsky

Roop by ko rd 2

Grantman site profile image  

10/28/11 10:38 AM by Grantman

The only JMMA fighters I remember coming to the UFC hyped to see was Akiyama. Anyone who has followed MMA for awhile realized that Yamamoto, Uno, and Gomi where all WAY past their primes relative to their japanese years. Gomi and Yamamoto especially had severe dropoffs prior to even coming to the UFC.Okami was very successful as a JMMA representative. He may have lost to Anderson but so has everyone else. Omigawa got robbed vs Elkins and lost to Mendes (who is also undefeated).Akiyama came in massively hyped and let us down. Aoki came to the USA hyped and got owned via Melendez who is at least top 5 in the world so again, it's all a matter of objectivity.

RoidsGracie site profile image  

10/28/11 10:27 AM by RoidsGracie

 I think Riki Fukuda could make some waves in the UFC too. He has a style well suited for American MMA - godo takedowns and top control, cuts weight, is physically string. etc. That's why I was surprised when he lost the dec to Nick Ring considering he took him down and controlled Ring which American judges love.

Twelve Gage site profile image  

10/28/11 9:53 AM by Twelve Gage

Roop by headkick.

Lamont Coleman site profile image  

10/28/11 12:09 AM by Lamont Coleman

iole with the shill post. This guy is pathetic.

WRESTLENOW site profile image  

10/27/11 10:01 PM by WRESTLENOW

Okami already broke the curse.

Liquid8 site profile image  

10/27/11 9:35 PM by Liquid8

I've put my foot in my mouth so many times when I tell my friends about some Japanese fighter making his debut in north america and how amazing he is. I've been dead wrong so many times, while I watch them fall flat on their face.Hopefully this final time with Hioki, I won't look like such a tard.

hmeboy site profile image  

10/27/11 9:28 PM by hmeboy

Article didn't make that distinction, just said that he has fought 2 times in TKO.

Ip Man site profile image  

10/27/11 7:32 PM by Ip Man

I think that Masato, Buakaw, Yodsenklai and several other fighters out there disprove this "Asian Body disadvantage" theory.