UFC 137: George Roop is going to get his respect, whether you like it or not

On Sat., Oct. 29, 2011, Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight fighter George Roop will welcome top prospect Hatsu Hioki to the Octagon in Las Vegas, Nevada, at UFC 137.

Fans have had the privilege of enjoying Hioki's high level skill set for years as he has wreaked havoc on the 145-pounders who fought for Shooto and Sengoku in Japan.

Many expect Hioki to steamroll his way through Roop, straight to a title shot against current champion Jose Aldo, as soon as possible.

Don't tell Roop. He's got other plans for "Iron Broom."

"I don't train to go out there and knock the guy out in the first round. I don't train to go out there and submit the guy in the first round. I train for a three round, grueling war that goes everywhere: On the ground, against the cage and standing up on the feet. I train to be in the worst positions I can be in. I'm just gonna go out there and I'm gonna decision him. That's my mentality. I plan on winning the decision, but if it ends in a finish, I'll take that."

Roop will be coming off a big victory over Josh Grispi at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale on June 4 in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was particularly significant (and maybe even necessary) after he was completely taken apart by former Team Tompkins training partner Mark Hominick at UFC Fight for the Troops 2 on Jan. 22 in Fort Hood, Texas. 

When Roop received news that he was chosen to be the one-man welcoming party for the highly touted Hioki, he was ecstatic and up for the challenge.

"I was real excited. That was my initial thought. I wanna fight the best guys in the world, no matter what. Regardless of what kind of winning streak I have or not. I wanna test myself against the best fighters in the world. I'm not one of those guys who asks to fight the 'turds.'"

Roop isn't naive. He knows that Hioki is heavily favored, but he's been in this spot before.

"I like being the underdog. It just gives me a little more motivation. I like to screw people up. I like to make people money when they bet on me. I like being the underdog. It's a good role to play. There's a lot less pressure on me. Then, when you come out on top, you just look that much better.

I'm gonna get my respect, whether people like it or not. I don't have that great winning streak man, 'cuz I fight nothing but top ten talent. I'm not like, 'Hey, give me a couple of turds to fight.' I try to fight the best guys all the time. That doesn't bother me. If they wanna call me 'the gatekeeper to the strap,' I'm cool with that."

There's no point in getting involved in a fight you know you can't win. Some fighters fight for a paycheck. While fighting does pay Roop's bills, he isn't just punching a time clock. He believes he can win every fight. He believes he'll win this one.

"I think we match up great stylistically. I don't think he's a super great wrestler. He doesn't have that 'blast-through power' to get the takedowns. He has more judo takedowns than anything. His strength is on the ground. I feel like I'll be able to keep it off the ground and when I feel like I wanna put him on his back, I'll be able to put him on his back."

Though George is very confident in his own abilities, he is, by no means underestimating the dangerous nature of his next opponent. He was highly complimentary of Hioki and what he has accomplished during his career, thus far.

"He's going to do better than every Asian fighter who has made the transition to the UFC. Reason being is that he's very experienced. I don't feel like he ever fights on emotion. He's been in big fights. He's fought the top elite talent that they have in Japan. He's beat Ronnie Mann. He's beat Marlon Sandro. I mean, Sandro is like a Brazilian Leonard Garcia. So, yeah, I think he'll be more prepared than any of the other Asian prospects have been."

What say you, Maniacs?

Will Hioki be too hot for Roop to handle, or will wrestling be the Achilles' heel of yet another exciting Japanese prospect?

Opinions please!

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