HATSU HIOKI on the importance of his UFC Macau fight, and the next generation of fighters in ASIA


MMA-in-ASIA: You’ve been traveling a lot in the last year. How was Australia?

Hioki: They are good, they train jiujitsu and striking a lot. I think someday they will have some great MMA fighters.

MMA-in-ASIA: What did you contribute while you were guest coaching there?

Hioki: We worked on jiujitsu and MMA. There are some great fighters in that gym. I’ve been there in the past. I also learned some technique from them, there are some great teachers there so it was a good opportunity to me.

MMA-in-ASIA: You also went to Korea, and traveled to Team MAD. What is your impression of the Korean fighters?

Hioki: Recently, the Korean fighters’ level is getting higher. I was surprised at their ability. The Korean fighters are very strong.

MMA-in-ASIA: When you turned down the championship fight, it seems as if you earned a tough road, and recently a decision that many thought went the wrong way. What did you learn from your decision?

Hioki: Maybe they ere are some opinions that reflect that, but I just want to try to improve myself. It was not my timing. When the timing comes, title shot or not, I don’t care. It’s not the title that’s important to me. It’s focusing on my fight that’s important.

MMA-in-ASIA: Do you think a close decision wen the way of wrestling rather than jiujitsu?

Hioki: When it goes to the judges, I don’t care. I really just want to improve myself.

MMA-in-ASIA: What are you bringing to this fight?

Hioki: I’m focusing on my mentality. I will bring a strong heart into the Octagon. I shall fight calm and think about what I’m capable of and I will win.

MMA-in-ASIA: How important is a finish for you in this fight?

Hioki: I always try to finish.

MMA-in-ASIA: Does the thought of “life after the UFC” drive you at this point, or does it not influence you?

Hioki: Of course I want to continue to fight in the UFC so I guess this fight is important, but I always try to finish the fight. If I can’t finish, I do want to win the decision, I think balance is important. But I will always try to finish. I will only focus on this fight, not what might happen after.

MMA-in-ASIA: What do you think about the new crop of younger Asian fighters being signed by the UFC, like Michinori Tanaka, Choi Doo-Ho?

Hioki: I think it’s very good. They have a lot of talent. I have trained with both of those guys, they are very strong. I think if they can adjust to the UFC rules and the UFC system, they can succeed. They are very good fighters.

MMA-in-ASIA: There are some very young fighters starting in the UFC. There are split opinions on whether it’s better for a fighter to mature a bit more in regional promotions, or if it’s fine to go when offered the chance, because even if they’re not ready, they still might get a second chance down the road. What are your thoughts?

Hioki: I think the teammates and coach should think about that. I think if the fighter is not ready, they should wait.

MMA-in-ASIA: And there are other fighters who people think should be going already, like Isao and Masanori Kanehara.

Hioki: Kanehara should go. He has the ability to fight in the UFC.

MMA-in-ASIA: And then there’s guys like Caol Uno. Do you think he should be given another chance to go to the UFC?

Hioki: Yes, he should go. It depends on the fighter of course.

MMA-in-ASIA: What is your opinion of UFC coming to Asia?

Hioki: I think it’s very good. I hope they will come back to Japan. If the UFC comes a lot, the MMA industry is going to recover in Japan.

MMA-in-ASIA: What do you think about the talk of TUF between Japan and Korea? Do you think it would be exciting?

Hioki: Oh… Maybe! There a lot of good fighters in Japan and Korea. I just hope the Japanese MMA industry gets stronger.

MMA-in-ASIA: What do you think of the new kids who are starting MMA now?

Hioki: The new generation focuses on getting skills transferable to the UFC. The MMA field is changing. We should learn from the younger generation!

MMA-in-ASIA: What are your hobbies outside of MMA?

Hioki: I like going to hot springs, and I like reading novels by Japanese authors.

MMA-in-ASIA: What will you eat after weigh ins?

Hioki: I will eat Japanese food, but I would eat raw fight?

MMA-in-ASIA: You’ve traveled a lot, and have been very open-minded in your training. What advice would you give to new fighters?

Hioki: The young guys are good, I don’t have any advice for them! I should learn from them, please give me advice! Young fighters think about MMA a lot now, I think they will be successful. Have an open mind to improve yourself.