Saturday, November 27, 2021

Hooker: Makhachev Fight Is A Title Eliminator, Not Chandler/Gaethje

UFC lightweight contender Dan Hooker believes his upcoming fight with Islam Makhachev is more of a title eliminator than UFC 268‘s Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler clash.

Hooker was recently in action at UFC 266. At the September pay-per-view, he faced the unranked Nasrat Haqparast. After consecutive losses to Dustin Poirier and Chandler, “The Hangman” rebounded inside the T-Mobile Arena with a comfortable unanimous decision victory over his German opponent.

Just days out from his latest outing, which came after weeks of training and visa issues, Hooker accepted a short-notice opportunity against one of the most highly touted names in the division, Makhachev. The Russian was initially slated to fight bitter rival Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 267 this weekend. After the Brazilian withdrew through injury, Hooker stepped up to face the #5-ranked lightweight contender in Abu Dhabi.

Ahead of this month’s non-pay-per-view numbered event, Hooker has suggested his matchup with the surging Dagestani is likely a number one contender bout. That’s despite the general consensus seemingly following the idea that the November 6 contest between former title challengers Gaethje and Chandler holds that status.

During an interview with It’s Time For Sports, “The Hangman” said that despite not receiving confirmation of it from the UFC, he “feels” as if the winner of his UFC 267 main card fight will compete for the 155-pound gold. The New Zealander believes his matchup with Makhachev is more of a title eliminator than the blockbuster lightweight showdown set for Madison Square Garden next month.

“They’ll never put that in writing. That’s not something that they do. It’s more just a feeling. I feel like this is a title eliminator more than the Chandler fight [vs. Gaethje]. Like, I was more uncertain about whether me vs. Michael Chandler was a title eliminator than this fight [vs. Makhachev].”

According to Hooker, the classification of his fight as a title eliminator comes from the stock the promotion is putting into Makhachev. He believes a victory for the American Kickboxing Academy product would certainly see him challenge for the lightweight belt next. With that in mind, the #6-ranked contender doesn’t see why he wouldn’t be afforded the same treatment should he defeat the 30-year-old on October 30.

“The amount of stock they’re putting into Islam, they’re setting him up for a title, like, 100%. And that’s just not how a title eliminator works. You can’t have a title eliminator where one guy wins and he gets a title [shot] and the other guy doesn’t. That’s not a title eliminator. So, I feel like when I get the job done, that’s what’s next for me.”

Do you think Dan Hooker vs. Islam Makhachev is a title eliminator?

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