In a fight with major ranking implications, Hatsu Hioki (24-4-2; UFC Debut) faces George Roop (12-7-1; 2-3 UFC) at UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz. This Featherweight contest is the opening bout of the PPV portion of the show. Hioki is currently the world's #2 Featherweight according to the USA Today/BE Consensus Rankings, while Roop is unranked. The PPV begins at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
Dana White's mantra on the UFC has always been that he brings the best fighters in the world together. That has quite happened yet in the fledgling Featherweight and Bantamweight divisions, but the arrival of Hatsu Hioki is a positive step, on paper at least. The big question here will be - is Hioki for real, or is he another Japanese ace doomed to failure in the US? We've seen men like Shinya Aoki and Marlon Sandro come over with big hype, only to lose. Hioki is, rightly, being touted as perhaps the best of the bunch. If he loses here, it's more fuel on the "Japan is overrated" fire.
How do these two stack up?
Hioki: 28 years old | 5'11"
Roop: 29 years old | 6'1"
What have these two done recently?
Hioki: W - Donald Sanchez (Sub) | W - Marlon Sandro (UD) | W - Jeff Lawson (Sub)
Roop: W - Josh Grispi (KO) | L - Mark Hominick (TKO) | W - Chan Sung Jung (KO)
How did these two get here?
As I said, Hatsu Hioki comes in incredibly hyped. The former Sengoku World Victory Road Featherweight champion is ranked #2 in the world at 145, behind only Jose Aldo. He's only lost once in his last 14 fights, and that loss was a very controversial decision against Michihiro Omigawa. He holds wins over Marlon Sandro, Jeff Curran, and former #1 contender Mark Hominick. That Sandro win was particularly impressive, as Hioki became the first man to definitively defeat the tough Brazilian. Some are already penciling in a Hioki vs. Aldo showdown, and that road starts here.
George Roop is ready to be the spoiler. The former Ultimate Fighter contender went 1-2 as a Lightweight in the UFC before moving down to Featherweight and the WEC. There, he scored a career highlight KO over The Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung before coming back to the UFC after the closing of the WEC. He's 1-1 since, and coming off of a solid win over Josh Grispi. He definitely has his work cut out for him here, but if he wins, it will be a huge feather in his cap.
Why should you care?
Sorry Roop, but this one is all about Hioki. Is he legit, or will Japan fall again? Time to find out.
More UFC 137 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.
UFC 137 Weigh In Video: BJ Penn and Nick Diaz Almost Come To Blows - Matthew Roth
UFC 137: Mirko Cro Cop vs. Roy Nelson Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137 Penn vs Diaz: Staff Predictions
UFC 137 Weigh-In Video and Results - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137: Scott Jorgensen vs. Jeff Curran Dissection - Dallas Winston
Judo Chop: B.J. Penn's Back Control - Ben Thapa
UFC 137: The Sober Reality of Nick Diaz's Continued Presence in MMA - Leland Roling
UFC 137: Dana White Video Blog, Part 2 - Matthew Roth
Judo Chop: Nick Diaz's Ground Game - Ben Thapa
UFC 137: George Roop vs. Hatsu Hioki Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137 Striking Breakdown: Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic - Fraser Coffeen
UFC 137 Press Conference Recap: Jon Anik to Broadcast Booth, UFC on Fox Undercard on Facebook and Fox.com - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 137 Video: B.J. Penn Challenges Cesar Gracie, Admits to Being 'Hookwinked' By Him - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Roy Nelson 'I'd Have to Cut Off A Leg To Make 205' - Matthew Roth
Bad Boy Presents Bloody Elbow Radio - Episode 92: UFC 137 Preview - Matt Bishop
UFC 137 Video: Nick Diaz Goes In-Depth About Press Conference Fiasco, Not Loving Fighting - Tim Burke
UFC 137: The Card That Could Have Been and the PPV Repercussions - Matthew Roth
UFC 137 Video: B.J. Penn Talks Fighting Nick Diaz and Future Title Shots - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 137: B.J. Penn Explains Lack of Hype for Nick Diaz Fight - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 137: Nick Diaz Wishes He'd Stuck to Boxing Plans - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 137: George Roop Discusses Bout With Hatsu Hioki, Death of Shawn Tompkins - Tim Burke
UFC 137 Video: Danny Downes Fighter Diary In Preparation for Ramsey Nijem - Anton Tabuena
UFC 137: Tyson Griffin vs. Bart Palaszewski Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz Betting Lines - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz Countdown Video - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Dennis Siver vs. Donald Cerrone Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137: Matt Mitrione's Rapid Rise the Exception, Not the Rule - Leland Roling
UFC 137 Roundtable: Analyzing Nick Diaz's Chances Against B.J. Penn
UFC 137: Nick Diaz Discusses Looking Up to B.J. Penn, Gameplanning - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Breaking Down the Striking of Matt Mitrione - Fraser Coffeen
UFC 137: B.J. Penn Not Offended By Nick Diaz At All - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz - Best Bets for Fight of the Night - Brent Brookhouse
UFC 137: Donald Cerrone's Unlikely Run May Land Him in Title Contention - Leland Roling
UFC 137: Facebook Card Dissection - Dallas Winston
UFC 137: Dana White Video Blog, Part 1 - Tim Burke
UFC 137: Cesar Gracie - If Nick Diaz Finishes B.J. Penn, He Should Get GSP Next - Tim Burke