Recently released UFC lightweight Carlo Prater will try to halt a two-fight skid in Tokyo on Christmas Eve when he takes on Shooto 154-pound world champ and fellow Octagon vet Kuniyoshi Hironaka.
The non-title matchup, which will be part of Vale Tudo Japan 2012, was announced Sunday during Shooto “12th Round.” Also confirmed for the card was a bantamweight bout between Japanese fan favorites Hideo Tokoro and Rumina Sato.
Prater entered the UFC in January on a four-fight winning streak and earned a controversial disqualification victory over welterweight prospect Erick Silva at UFC 142. The 31-year-old subsequently moved down to lightweight, where decision losses to T.J. Grant and Marcus LeVesseur spelled the end of his Octagon tenure. A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Prater has scored 16 of his 30 career victories by way of submission.
Hironaka, 36, will make his second appearance on the year and enters the bout after four consecutive wins. The leader of team Master Japan captured Shooto’s vacant 154-pound title last July with a win over Kotetsu Boku and successfully defended the belt in May with a first-round stoppage of Nova Uniao product Giovani Diniz. Since being released by the UFC in 2008 after a 1-3 run at welterweight, Hironaka has racked up nine wins with only three defeats.
Vale Tudo Japan 2012 marks the eighth iteration of the 18-year-old series and the first since its revival in 2009. It will be the first VTJ event to take place in a cage under MMA’s unified rules.