Hatsu Hioki isn't a name that most casual fans will be familiar with, but hardcore fans will know that he has long been considered one of the best featherweight fighters on the planet.
Tonight at UFC 137, Hioki will finally make his UFC debut against tough competitor George Roop.
In the past, we have seen many Japanese fighters crossover from the Japanese to the American circuit and get exposed as overrated and incapable of competing with top competition, so it will be interesting to see how Hioki fairs in his UFC debut.
A win over Roop tonight would mean a couple things for Hioki.
It would confirm that he is deserving of the reputation he's earned by fighting overseas and that he has what it takes to be a relevant factor in the UFC's featherweight division.
Furthermore, a decisive victory over Roop would likely put Hioki in line for a shot at the title.
Roop isn't exactly a top contender at featherweight, but the division is hurting for new title challengers and, given his reputation from fighting in Japan, it's not unlikely that the UFC would fast-track him to a crack at the belt.
One win will not be enough for a title shot, but it should get Hioki a match with one of the division's top contenders.
If he disposes of Roop, expect to see Hioki fighting someone like Mark Hominick, Mike Brown or Chang-Sung Jung.
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