UFC 137 fight card: Introducing Hatsu Hioki vs George Roop

Photo via UFC.com

The UFC 137: "Penn vs. Diaz" pay-per-view main card kicks off tonight (Oct. 29, 2011) with a match-up pitting a man you may know, George Roop, against a man you likely don't know, Hatsu Hioki.

And what better night than tonight for your introduction to one of the top featherweights in the world.

Hioki has spent nearly the entirety of his career fighting abroad. Of his 30 career mixed martial arts fights, just three of them have been anywhere but Japan, all three taking place in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

His record (24-4-2) is stellar, his list of victims (Marlon Sandro, Jeff Curran, Mark Hominick x2) is impressive and his ranking (number three in the world at 145-pounds) has reached incredible heights despite a general lack of fame.

In short, this man is one dangerous son of a gun, something his opponent -- and the rest of us -- will finally get to see inside the Octagon.

Roop will enter the cage with a heavy heart. Just a few short months ago, his trainer and friend, Shawn Tompkins, died in his sleep. It was a devastating loss for the mixed martial arts community but especially for all those under his tutelage.

That included Roop, who has vowed to earn his respect the hard way with Tompkins as "the angel on my shoulder."

How can you root against that?

On top of fighting for his fallen comrade, Roop is jockeying for position in the featherweight division, which is light on contenders to Jose Aldo's title. Stringing together a few wins would be more than enough to make legitimate case for a shot at the throne.

Oh and did I mention Hioki is ranked number three in the world?

With Chad Mendes, ranked number two, likely getting the next shot against Aldo, ranked one, a win over Hioki would catapult Roop right into the thick of the action.

Hello, contenders. Nice to meet you.

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