Two UFC fighters with a high level of urgency square off this weekend in Macau at the TUF: China finale when Hatsu Hioki battles Ivan Menjivar. The Japanese star entered the promotion back in 2011 with plenty of hype as being one of the most talented 145-pound fighters in the sport. Unfortunately, Hioki has been unable to live up to those expectations as he’s managed to produce just two wins in his five appearances and is currently riding a three-fight losing skid.
The veteran Menjivar is making the move back up to the featherweight ranks after competing in the 135-pound division for most of his Octagon career. Menjivar is also feeling the heat concerning job security having lost three of his last four bouts.
Hioki has never been able to hit his stride in the UFC and finds himself likely on the chopping block if he we were to suffer another defeat. After starting his Octagon tenure with a pair of victories he’s dropped decisions to Ricardo Lamas, Clay Guida and most recently at Fight Night 27 against Darren Elkins. The “Iron Broom” can be a handful physically with his lanky frame and has an impressive ground game with 12 of his 26 career victories having come by submission. Hioki is as tough as they come as he has never been knocked out or submitted during his 35-fight career.
Menjivar is also battling to prolong his UFC career as he has dropped his last two fights against Urijah Faber and Wilson Reis. “The Pride of El Salvador” has fought the likes of Georges St.Pierre and Matt Serra in a well-travelled 36 fight MMA career that has seen him compete anywhere from 135 to 170 pounds. He’s getting quite the physical challenge in testing the featherweight waters against Hioki. Menjivar definitely has an advantage in the striking department as evidenced by his nine career knockouts and is noted for being a risk taker with some unorthodox techniques.
This bout is the proverbial winner lives to fight another day while the loser will likely be cut adrift from the organization. Hioki’s UFC tenure has been a disappointing one thus far but he can get things moving in the right direction with a victory this weekend. It should be an entertaining matchup between two veterans hungry for a victory.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports