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UFC 137 Preview: Hioki vs. Roop, Jorgensen vs. Curran

MMAFrenzy’s coverage of UFC 137 continues as we kick off our preview of Saturday’s main card with a pair of fights between featherweights Hatsu Hioki (pictured) and George Roop, and bantamweights Scott Jorgensen and Jeff Curran.

Stay tuned to each day this week as we take a look at new fight from UFC 137, leading up to the main event showdown between welterweight contenders BJ Penn and Nick Diaz.

Hatsu Hioki vs. George Roop

Keys for Hioki (CL) – On Saturday night, former Sengoku champion Hatsu Hioki will make his UFC debut and attempt to do something that few top Japanese fighters have done in their Zuffa debuts, win. Now in fairness to Takanori Gomi, Kid Yamamoto, Michihiro Omigawa, and Takeya Mizugaki, those debuts were against Kenny Florian, Chad Mendes, Demetrious Johnson, and Miguel Torres. All recent/current number one contenders, or in the case of Torres, WEC bantamweight champion.

George Roop is not exactly a number one contender and he will likely never be. He is not someone who should be taken lightly however, as it always appears that is when he is most dangerous. Roop will also be the first fighter that will be taller than Hioki but that may not matter much in this fight as Roop will likely end up defending the takedown whenever he gets in close.

If Hioki has a signature move, it is his triangle choke. He can hit it from just about anywhere, and when he gets it, he loves to batter his opponents with strikes (ala Silva on Lutter) rather than just go for the submission. What that does is overload a fighter’s ability to intelligently defend the triangle due to the fact they have not one, but two problems to deal with. Even if Roop is cognizant about the choke, and he better be with as many teammates that have fought Hioki, at 6’1″ he has to protect his arms at all times. Meaning he would be far better off keeping this fight standing, where Hioki is decent but always looking to rip off limbs rather than go for KOs. What has doomed many Japanese fighters in their US debut has been facing someone with superior MMA wrestling and that should not be an issue for Hioki in this fight.

In the end, I look for Hioki to get this fight on the ground eventually and likely attack Roop with a chain of submissions.

Keys for Roop (Bryan Robison) – George Roop has the privilege of welcoming Japanese superstar Hatsu Hioki to American mixed martial arts and the UFC. Roop, a longtime veteran of the UFC and WEC, is older than Hioki, but Hioki has four years of experience on him. He has not won two consecutive fights since 2008, prior to joining The Ultimate Fighter season 8. But in that span, he has impressive wins over Josh Grispi and Chan-Sung Jung. He brings a reach and length that you rarely see at 145 pounds. However, Hioki is 5’11 himself.

In order to spoil Hioki’s arrival, Roop needs to utilize his muay thai against Hioki. While Hioki is strong enough on his feet, Roop is more than capable of ending the fight with his arsenal of punches and kicks.

Other than a controversial loss to Michihiro Omigawa in November 2009, Hioki has not lost in over four years. Roop can actually use that to his advantage. While that streak is impressive, none of those occurred inside the octagon, and in the United States. Japanese fighters have long struggled in their transition to the UFC. Stars such as Takanori Gomi, aforementioned Omigawa, Kid Yamamoto, and Caol Uno all lost their debuts in the promotion.

Scott Jorgensen vs. Jeff Curran

Keys for Jorgensen (BR) – Scott Jorgensen is coming up on a year anniversary on his first career title shot. While that did not go the way he had hoped for, Jorgensen learned a lot in that humbling defeat to champion Dominick Cruz.

Losing to Cruz is nothing to be ashamed of, and Jorgensen is still a top five bantamweight. He still has a strong wrestling base to fall back on.

That expertise will be the key to a victory against returning UFC veteran Jeff Curran.

Curran has long struggled with wrestlers. In his most recent exit under the Zuffa banner, Curran endured a four fight loss streak in the WEC. Those losses came to wrestlers like Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, and Mike Brown.

Yes, Curran does bring an impressive BJJ pedigree, but Jorgensen has just one loss via submission during his career. That came over five years ago.

A rather strange pattern has gone on throughout Jorgensen’s career: Every single one of his fights either were finished in the first round, or went the distance (3 to 5 rounds). That is rather impressive considering Jorgensen has sixteen career matches to his name.

That pattern will likely continue on Saturday.

Keys for Curran (CL) – The key for “Big Frog” is pretty simple, punish Jorgensen each and every time he attempts a takedown to the point where you turn this into a stand-up war or you submit him. Curran doesn’t have his cousin’s wrestling ability but even if he did, Jorgensen would still be the better wrestler.

Curran is one of the BJJ practioners in the sport that is truly offensive with his guard and he will be active against Jorgensen off his back. If Curran can chain submission after submission he can force Jorgensen to stand and trade, but if Jorgensen takes his chances Curran is always a threat to submit a fighter. With that said, Jorgensen is not easy to submit and if it goes to the judges Curran will have to pray that they understand the ground attack to realize that the higher man is not always the one in control.

UFC 137 Previews:

Donald Cerrone versus Dennis Siver

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