Hatsu Hioki defeated George Roop via split decision in his UFC debut at UFC 137, but it will be the judges' decision, not Hioki's victory that will be the focus. Regardless, Iron Broom has a lot of work to do before his next fight on American soil.
At one point Roop had Hioki reeling, but spent too much time showboating when he had enough time to finish off the Japanese star before the bell. The American Muay Thai fighter will probably come to regret that decision.
Hioki was 24-4-2 in his career before finally deciding to make the jump to UFC, and found that it will be much tougher to gain traction in the sport's predominant organization. Nevertheless, Hioki has now won nine of his last 10 matches.
The one positive Hioki can take away from the fight, other than the win of course, is that he was able to withstand several Roop attacks. Roop was in a good position a couple times in the third and final round, but apparently, wasn't able to do enough damage to impress and sway the judges.
During Hioki's the post-match interview with Joe Rogan, the fans booed the verdict.
Hioki will need to work on his attacking style if he's going to become a legitimate threat in UFC's featherweight division. He rose to prominence in Japan, but he won't have that same base of fans in the States, so he'll need to put on a much better show to become a fan favorite.
Again, that starts with the attack. He has just four knockout wins in his career and showed no signs of power against Roop, who left himself open several times. If he remains a submission specialist, he'll eventually run into a fighter that will be able to outlast him like Roop almost did on Saturday.
While Hioki is talented, there's a lot of room for improvement before we can decipher whether the transition to America and UFC will be a successful one, or disappointment like so many of his fellow countrymen.
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