Hatsu Hioki Set To Face George Roop At UFC 137Former Shooto and Sengoku champion Hatsu Hioki will make his Octagon debut against George Roop at UFC 137 on October 29th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The promotion officially announced the bout today. Hioki vacated his Shooto title and began negotiations with the UFC at the end of May.

The Japanese star has lost just once in his last 14 bouts, in a controversial Split Decision against Michihiro Omigawa in late 2009, and holds recent victories over former Sengoku titleholders Masanori Kanehara and Marlon Sandro. Roop has earned knockout wins in two of his last three fights.

Hioki (24-4-2) is widely regarded as one of the very best ground fighters in the featherweight division and has earned 12 submission wins to date. While his striking continues to improve, Hioki has been prone to engaging in ill-advised kickboxing battles in the past, which has cost him close decisions on more than one occasion. Hioki has never been finished, however, and three of his four decision losses have come via razor-thin Split Decisions.

Roop (12-7-1) dropped down to featherweight after a 1-2 stint in the UFC and made his WEC debut at WEC 46 early last year. His first two bouts did not go as planned, as he dropped a decision to Eddie Wineland before fighting to a contentious Draw with Leonard Garcia in a fight that many felt that Roop had won. Since then, however, Roop has earned big knockout wins over “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung and former number one contender Josh “The Fluke” Grispi.

The ground ace, Hioki, will hold a significant advantage over Roop if he is able to take the fight to the mat, but Roop has demonstrated knockout power and improved striking technique in recent outings, and an upset is not out of the question. Hioki will look to end a recent trend that has seen Japanese fighters struggle in the UFC. He brings cage experience, as well as two victories over recent UFC title challenger Mark “The Machine” Hominick, into his promotional debut.

UFC 137 takes place on October 29th at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event will be headlined by a UFC Welterweight Championship bout between Georges “Rush” St. Pierre and Nick Diaz.



(Photo Credit: Sherdog.com)