George Roop isn’t talked about a lot when discussing MMA veterans, but the UFC talent has faced a who’s who of top talent in his career. A glance at his record reveals a modest 12-9-1 mark, but once you look at the level of competition he’s faced, that doesn’t seem so bad after all. Yet, Roop has lost two straight and appears to be heading for the UFC chopping block very soon.

The former Ultimate Fighter cast member is looking to avoid such a fate by dropping down to 135 pounds for his next bout, which comes this weekend at UFC 158. Roop has competed as high as lightweight before in his career, but has only attempted the drop to 135 pounds once before. It was clear then that the weight cut was a struggle for him, and Roop lost a unanimous decision to the tough Eddie Wineland. Perhaps Roop has learned from his earlier mistakes and will have an easier time cutting down to 135 pounds, but with such a large frame, that may be difficult no matter how hard he tries.

Roop will be considerably bigger than nearly every opponent he faces in both weight and height at 135 pounds. The 6-foot-1 Roop is already a towering opponent at featherweight and should have a Jon Jones-like reach advantage at bantamweight. Still, don’t expect Roop to fare much better at bantamweight than he did at 145 pounds.

The main issue with predicting success for Roop is that he has yet to show fans anything that would make us think otherwise. Every time Roop has faced stiff competition, he’s come out on the losing end. The only notable name Roop holds a victory over is “The Korean Zombie” Chan-Sung Jung, and that was back when Jung employed the “zombie strategy” to the extreme. It’s highly likely to expect Roop to defeat upper-level talent to change based solely on his drop in weight. His reach advantage will be huge, but the guys at bantamweight will be even quicker and Roop will have to work harder to fully utilize his length.

A secondary concern for Roop is the loss of Shawn Tompkins. It’s clear that Tompkins was a very influential figure not only as a coach but outside the gym as well. Just look at how Mark Hominick’s career has fallen apart since losing Tompkins. Roop hasn’t fared much better since Tompkins passed, and I’m not sold on his ability to get back on track without his mentor.

The one saving grace for Roop is that the bantamweight division is wide open for the taking. The only certified star not holding a belt is Urijah Faber, and “The California Kid” already has losses to both interim champ Renan Barao and official champion Dominick Cruz. Wineland has been on a roll lately and is set to challenge Barao, and Michael McDonald could see himself in the title picture soon despite losing to Barao recently. If Roop can string together a couple of impressive victories, he could find himself in the title hunt due to the lack of credible title challengers in the division.

The problem is, until Roop shows us he can sustain success for more than one fight at a time, we should approach his venture to bantamweight with caution.

Photo: George Roop (R) throws a right hand (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.