Sunday, January 24, 2021

Dan Hooker Eager To Spoil UFC’s Plans For Michael Chandler

Dan Hooker believes he has a firm read of the UFC’s plans for Michael Chandler and that he is just the guy to spoil them.

The UFC has officially announced that Dan Hooker will be facing Michael Chandler at UFC 257 on January 23 in what will be Chandler’s UFC debut. Though the roulette ball finally landed on #6, the UFC were initially aiming even higher for Chandler by targeting top-5 opponents Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson, and even tagging him as a replacement for the UFC 254 main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.

One sensible question from fans and fighters alike would be to ask why the UFC were targeting such highly ranked opponents for the newcomer. Dan Hooker feels he has the answer.

“I think they just wanted to get him to a title shot as quickly as possible,” Hooker said in an interview with SCMP. “Anyone that’s been following the sport for a good amount of time knows that the danger lies in time. Father time in this sport is not your friend. You know what I mean? They want him to come in and look like the man, you know?

UFC 257: Michael Chandler admits Dan Hooker wasn't on his 'radar'
Michael Chandler, Credit: Lucas Noonan

“So if he comes in, he whitewashes a top-five, top-four, top-three opponent, then people will start going, ‘Title shot, title shot, title shot,” Hooker continued. “Because like 95 percent of people that watch it are lazy. They’ll only watch the highlight reel in the buildup to the fight so they’ll be like, ‘Whoa, he’s a former champ in another organization? He came in and beat a top-five. Now he’s fighting for a title!’ They’re not gonna actually go back and watch his fights…So the quicker they can get him to a title, the quicker they could market and sell him.”

Dan Hooker Happy To Enjoy UFC’s “Gift”

Christmas may have come and gone, but for Dan Hooker, he will unwrap a gift from the UFC on January 23 and then gleefully break it right in front of the giver’s face.

“So to me, you’re gonna give me the new toy? I’m gonna break the new toy real quick. They invested a whole lot of money to get this guy out of his contract and get him over to the UFC and they’re gonna throw him in with me who’s like a bad stylistic matchup and I’m gonna break the toy in five minutes. I can’t say I feel sorry for them (laughs).”

But more than the pleasure he would get from playing the spoiler on January 23, the bigger picture Dan Hooker sees is him stealing all of Chandler’s hype and inserting himself into the lightweight title landscape. Because if Chandler was a replacement for a recent world title fight and was then targeted to face top-3 opponents, then a victory over him puts Dan Hooker in that exact same spot, much to what he believes to be the chagrin of the UFC powers that be.

Do you think Dan Hooker will “spoil the UFC’s plans” for Michael Chandler at UFC 257?