(Video courtesy of YouTube/EskriMMA)
Shooto featherweight champion Hatsu Hioki announced today that he has relinquished his belt and that he is moving on from the Japanese promotion in search of other challenges.
“At this time, I’ve returned the Shooto world lightweight title,” Hioki told Sherdog.com via email. “There is a pride in wearing the Shooto world title, but I think that, in the near future, I would like to challenge a new stage of pride.”
According to Sherdog, the popular 24-4-2 fighter, who holds a pair of wins over UFC featherweight contender Mark Hominick as well as one a piece over Takeshi “Lion” Inoue and Marlon Sandro, is being flown in to Vancouver, BC to attend UFC 131. I think we can all connect the dots on where he’s fighting next.
Unless he’s just a huge fan of Nick Ring or fellow countryman Michihiro Omigawa and we’re just reading into this all wrong, Hioki will be a welcome addition to the UFC’s somewhat vapid 145-pound class. When you scratch beneath the surface of plausible threats to champ Jose Aldo‘s strap like Hominick, Chad Mendes, Josh Grispi and Dustin Poirier, there are really no other viable contenders waiting in the wings. “Shooto no Ko” will provide the division with a much needed spark.