Two UFC featherweights will be looking to produce elusive winning streaks when they square off against each other this weekend at Fight Night 43. Charles Oliveira and Hatsu Hioki are both looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2012 as they meet on the main card of the promotion’s first-ever event in New Zealand. It’s a matchup between two solid grapplers that has Fight of the Night potential.
Oliveira is fresh off an impressive submission win over Andy Ogle at Fight Night 36 in Brazil. He delighted the partisan crowd by finishing Ogle in the final round to earn a Performance of the Night bonus. The badly-needed victory snapped a two-fight skid. The 24-year-old Brazilian entered the organization with an impressive 12-0 career record but has gone just 5-4 with one no-contest during his Octagon tenure.
“Do Bronx” has faced the likes of Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson, Donald Cerrone and Jim Miller during his current UFC stint and has shown flashes of brilliance. He’s already established that he can be involved in exciting affairs with six post-fight bonuses to his credit.
The Japanese veteran Hioki was able to avoid the chopping block at the TUF China finale when he ended a three-fight slide with a unanimous decision victory over Ivan Menjivar. The former Sengoku and Shooto champion was able to even his Octagon record to 3-3 with that triumph.
His UFC losses have come against high-quality opposition in the forms of Ricardo Lamas, Clay Guida and Darren Elkins. “Iron Broom” entered the organization back in 2011 with a reputation of being one of the best 145 pound fighters on the planet, but has failed to live up to that hype. Stringing a few victories together would help to change that opinion and would put Hioki in line for some intriguing future match ups.
It’s an interesting stylistic clash. Oliveira will have a decided advantage in the stand-up department with his flashy striking and kicking skills. He’s proven to be a very strong finisher with 16 of his 17 career victories having come by knockout or submission.
On the other hand, Hioki isn’t much of a striker but possesses tremendous strength and a dangerous ground game. The Japanese veteran has 12 submission victories in 27 career wins. He’s a load for any 145 pound competitor to deal with if he’s able to work his way into dominant top position on the ground.
The stakes are high for both fighters entering this clash. Hioki needs to keep building momentum and should be fighting with a high level of desperation. Another setback in Auckland against the talented Brazilian could spell the end of his Octagon tenure.
In the meantime, Oliveira will be hoping to find some much-needed consistency as he looks to finally take his career to the next level. A victory over the tough Japanese veteran would be one of the biggest of his UFC career.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for RantSports.com