In a Featherweight fight at UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz, Hatsu Hioki barely squeaked by George Roop. Hioki took the fight via split decision, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28. This was the opening fight on the PPV card, and was Hioki's UFC debut. Roop is now 1-2 since returning to the UFC after the closing of the WEC.
This fight was built around Hioki coming into the UFC as one of the best in the world and a potential future challenger for Jose Aldo. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way. Though Hioki scored the win, he failed to impress in an overall uneventful fight. As would be a trend for this card, this is not a fight where the winner comes out looking strong.
What was the high spot of this fight?
As the two men got to their feet towards the end of round 2, Roop worked to get the fading crowd pumped up, firing off shots and getting the crowd into the action. It was a rare moment of excitement and passion in the overly tactical battle.
Where do these guys go from here?
One place Hioki does not go is to Jose Aldo. A big, impressive win could have moved him right into the #1 contender slot, but this didn't do it. It's hard to predict where he'll go since the Featherweight division is still in a real state of development. Perhaps the winner of Mark Hominick vs. Chan Sung Jung at UFC 140?
Roop lost, but it was not a performance that will lower his stock. He was the serious underdog, but showed a lot and very nearly defeated the Japanese ace. He is likely ready to kill some time against any one of numerous Featherweights. Both Nam Phan and Bart Palaszewski would make sense.
Watch it now, later, or never?
Never. Maybe it's the lingering taste of the entire show, but this did nothing to stand out from the crowd.
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