Hatsu Hioki managed to scrape together a victory in his debut against George Roop in the opening fight of the PPV card at UFC 137, but it wasn’t an overly convincing display.
Roop started the first round strongly, taking the fight to Hioki on the feet and firing off a variety of front, head and leg kicks which gave Hioki plenty to think about.
Before long Hioki decided to take the fight to the cage, clinching up while looking for a takedown, but Roop didn’t make it easy for him and fought off several attempts before finally the Japanese fighter dragged him to the mat.
Hioki slickly moved to side control and stayed on top when Roop tried to scramble out, but he was not able to do any damage and as the round drew to a close Roop made it back to his feet.
The second round started much the same as the first with Roop letting loose with kicks, with one head kick in particular landing cleanly, but Hioki shrugged it off.
Soon after Hioki was once again looking to go to the mat and he did so beautifully, clinching up and then going for a trip takedown that landed him directly into the mount position. He then smoothly transitioned to side control and then back to full mount.
His base was excellent and he was in complete control in this dominant position, but again wasn’t able to do anything offensively with it, either by way of submission or ground and pound.
In the final stages of the round Hioki did try to let his hands go but Roop managed to scramble back to his feet and went on the rampage with a barrage of strikes while taunting his opponent, though Hioki managed to avoid them for the most part.
Roop continued to be aggressive in the opening stages of the final stanza and even secured a takedown, though he quickly stood back up after executing it.
A couple of minutes then ticked down as Roop clinched up against the cage and when they broke apart it was Roop again who surprised by faking a strike and then going for a takedown, and this time he stayed on top in Hioki’s guard.
Like Hioki he wasn’t able to do a great deal from the position however, but there was no question this was his round, and so it was left to the judges to pick a winner.
The close nature of the fight was reflected in a split decision result, but two judges favored Hioki allowing him to leave the Octagon with his hand raised.