TUF China Finale Play: Hatsu Hioki (-380) vs Ivan “The Pride of El Salvador” Menjivar (+260)

hiokiThe Ultimate Fighter: China Finale The Ultimate Fighter: China Finale Date: March 1, 2014 Arena: The Venetian at Macao’s CoitaiArena City: Macau, China

Featherweight bout: Hatsu Hioki (-380) vs Ivan “The Pride of El Salvador” Menjivar (+260) Fight Breakdown: Getting the action going for the TUF: China finale main card on UFC Fight Pass will be a featherweight contest between two veterans of the sport in Hatsu Hioki and “The Pride of El Salvador” Ivan Menjivar. Hioki is the favorite in this match-up at -380 ($380 to win $100), and Menjivar is the underdog at +260 ($100 to win $260) at Several Bookmakerss. HATSU HIOKI (26-7-2 MMA, 2-3 UFC) is currently on a three-fight losing streak that includes unanimous decision losses to Ricardo Lamas and Darren Elkins, and a split decision to Clay Guida. Despite the three losses, Hioki is a very talented fighter, which is why the UFC has decided to give him another shot. He will be entering this bout with a considerable height and reach advantage over the El Salvadorian. He could find success with it on the feet, but I think he will opt to take the fight to the mat, and attempt to use his length to out-grapple and possibly submit Menjivar. The veteran is a very talented grappler and submission artist, as he holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He likes to use his offensive grappling to smother his opponents and wear them down. While on the mat, he is constantly looking for submission opportunities, and does not allow his opponents to rest. Hioki trains out of nearby Japan and had his best performance in the UFC when he fought close to home, so he will be well-conditioned for a three round battle, should the fight go the distance. With his back against the wall, he will desperately be looking to get back on the win column, and make that title-run many fans expected him to when he first signed with the promotion. IVAN MENJIVAR (25-11 MMA, 4-3 UFC) missed weight two out of eight times since dropping down to the bantamweight division over three years ago. One of the two times he missed weight was in his last bout against Wilson Reis, in which he lost a unanimous decision. Menjivar believes the weight-cut affects his performance, which is why he has decided to make the move back up to 145 pounds. The El Salvadorian was competing at 135 pounds for the past three years, when there was a time early on in his career when he was fighting at 170 pounds. In fact, the first loss of his professional mixed martial arts career came against the now-former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. Menjivar also holds a notable career victory in the lightweight division against Joe Lauzon. The 31-year old veteran has been through all kinds of wars; there isn’t anything he hasn’t already seen. He is a well-versed fighter in all aspects of mixed martial arts; solid both on the feet and on the mat. “The Pride of El Salvador” is is a finisher, as 19 of his 25 career victories have come inside the distance; 10 by knockout and 9 by submission. Menjivar has a good chin; he is capable of taking punishment and coming back strong. The only ever knockout loss was, again, in his first ever pro career loss at welterweight against GSP. No one has stopped him since. Aside from his last loss to Urijah Faber, he has only been submitted one other time in his entire career, as he generally has excellent submission defense. His cardio differs from fight to fight, but he is usually in decent shape. Fight Prediction: Both featherweights have their backs against the wall heading into this match-up, and are in desperate need of a win, as a loss would likely result in a release from the promotion. I think Hioki will avoid using his range on the feet, and will instead close the distance on Menjivar and look to implement the takedown. I see him pressuring the El Salvadorian on the mat en route to a unanimous decision, if not securing the submission finish, which I think is a very real possibility, even considering how tough Menjivar is to finish. Gabe’s Pick: Hatsu Hioki by Submission (rear naked choke, 3:19 round 3) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Hatsu Hioki (-380) 5.7u to win 1.5u

Written by Gabe Killian

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