Thursday, May 19, 2022

Hooker Would Rather Dominant Decision Than Finish Against Makhachev

UFC lightweight Dan Hooker is hoping to “outclass” Islam Makhachev at UFC 267, rather than catch him with a submission or knockout shot.

Hooker’s reputation as an always-game and tough contender has been exponentially enhanced over the past month. In September, the New Zealander overcame extreme adversity to make it into the Octagon at UFC 266. Ahead of his clash with Nasrat Haqparast, “The Hangman” experienced run-ins with his country’s police over his inability to train at his own empty gym due to lockdown restrictions, was unable to prepare alongside his teammates, and struggled to secure a US visa. After a rough few weeks, Hooker arrived in Las Vegas just one day before the weigh-ins. Nevertheless, he made weight and delivered a mature and intelligent performance against his German opponent.

Having rebounded from his prior defeats to Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler, the expectation was for Hooker to return to New Zealand and perhaps pursue a future move to the US. Amazingly, the #6-ranked lightweight instead accepted a clash with the surging Makhachev just days out from his latest UFC outing.

After Rafael dos Anjos withdrew due to injury, the opportunity for Hooker to earn another pay check in Abu Dhabi later this month wasn’t one he was going to turn down. He’ll challenge the dominance of Dagestan’s latest sensation at UFC 267 next weekend.

Despite facing one of the most highly touted contenders in the 155-pound division, and having barely a month to prepare, Hooker is confident he can get the job done on October 30, and says he won’t bring an short-notice excuses into the fight. But Makhachev’s team doesn’t appear to be taking any threat from their man’s new opponent seriously.

Both Khabib Nurmagomedov and American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez recently suggested Hooker doesn’t have what it takes to defeat Makhachev across three rounds. “The Eagle” claimed the only way his friend and compatriot could lose is through a “lucky punch.”

Responding during an appearance at UFC Vegas 41 media day, Hooker said that not only is he capable of beating Makhachev, but he’d rather outclass him and secure a dominant decision than land a fortunate punch or catch the Russian in a submission.

“I can beat him, I can beat him. That’s like, a fact. That’s like, how I’d prefer the fight to go, is to not catch him in a submission, not catch him with a knee or anything like that, and beat him. I feel like that [a complete 15-minute performance], over snatching his neck or catching him with a knee is like… will make me feel better on the inside, give me a warm feeling in my belly. Just to like, prove everyone… that will really shut everyone up if I go out there and just outclass him. Then what’s everyone gonna say?”

Hooker added that in his mind, he actually has more ways to win than Makhachev. While “The Hangman” believes he can finish anyone on the feet or on the ground, he doesn’t see the Dagestani being able to defeat him in any way other than on the scorecards.

“Go out there and prove where your grappling lies in the division and make him look a bit silly. That’s my intention and like, my plan for the fight. That’s the only way he’s going to beat me, is by a decision. I feel like he’s gonna try and hold me down for two rounds, and that’s the plan. That will be their plan coming into the fight,” added Hooker. “He’s not like, a big ground-and-pound guy, he’s not a really slick submission specialist. It’s more like, pressuring guys and tiring them out and forcing them to give up a submission, as opposed to being like a Charles Oliveira, like a real slick submission specialist that throws up all these different submission attempts and catches guys.”

Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC 267, Dan Hooker or Islam Makhachev?

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