Featherweight Hatsu Hioki will make his U.S. debut this weekend when he faces George Roop at UFC 137. For Hioki, it is a chance to prove his status was one of the top fighters in the world after going 24-4 while competing mostly in Japan.
Hioki has lost just once since 2007, winning nine fights and going to a draw once with Hiroshi Nakamura. His lone defeat came at the hands of Michihiro Omigawa, who has since joined the UFC as well.
Several fighters have come over from Japan to the UFC and not fared well, including Omigawa, who has gone 0-2 during his stint in the Octagon. For Hioki, this fight is important because he wants to prove the worth of his country.
“Yes, I feel some pressure,” said Hioki, in a recent interview with the UFC’s website. “I will try to beat the pressure and Mr. Roop. My style is to utilize all MMA skills and control the pace of fights. Please expect to see the toughness of the Japanese fighting spirit.”
Hioki has held the Sengoku featherweight title, the TKO featherweight crown and the Shooto lightweight championship during his career. He was also a semifinalist in the 2009 Sengoku Featherweight Grand Prix, missing the championship fight due to injury.
“The UFC looked to give me the best and the hardest challenge now with the current roster,” Hioki said. “The UFC featherweight division is stacked, and at the top of the division Mr. (Jose) Aldo has no holes in his game, it seems. He’s very explosive.”
Roop has went 2-1 in his last three fights and is 4-4-1 since his time on The Ultimate Fighter reality show. Their bout can be seen on the main PPV card when things fire up at 9:00 PM EST.
PHOTO CREDIT – SRC