Thursday, May 19, 2022

Islam Makhachev Shares Theory On Why Hooker Wants Five-Round Fight

UFC lightweight contender Islam Makhachev has suggested a motive behind his upcoming opponent Dan Hooker’s desire for a five-round fight.

At UFC 267, Makhachev will be entering the Octagon for the third time this year. After building a six-fight win streak prior to 2020, the Dagestani picked up where he left off at UFC 259 this March, having sat out the entirety of last year. Against Drew Dober, Makhachev secured his first submission victory since his promotional debut in 2015.

Four months later, the 31-year-old made it three. With the use of a rear-naked choke, Makhachev got past the ranked Thiago Moisés in his first UFC main event. After jumping into the lightweight top five, Makhachev was set for his toughest test to date against Rafael dos Anjos on October 30. However, reminiscent of their two failed attempts to clash in last year, their matchup once again failed to come to fruition after the Brazilian withdrew.

On short notice, and just days after his victory over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266, Hooker stepped in to face Makhachev. The #6-ranked contender will look to derail the Russian’s hype train this Saturday.

Makhachev Thinks He Knows Hooker’s Five-Round Motive

Not only did Dan Hooker step in to face one of the most feared lightweights in the division with barely a month to prepare, but he even requested for the bout to be changed to a five-rounder. Despite Islam Makhachev’s response, which “The Hangman” perceived to be a yes, it doesn’t appear as though the New Zealander’s wish will be granted.

Whilst many believe Hooker’s request derived from his experience in five-round contests, which has seen him fight for the full 25 minutes twice in the UFC, Makhachev has another theory. During a recent interview with BT Sport, the former combat sambo world champion suggested his opponent agreed to their fight for money, something he could get more of through a five-round affair.

“Honestly, I think Hooker come to Abu Dhabi just for make money. That’s why he ask about five rounds, because he know. Some fighters, they give five rounds, they paid more money. I think before, when he took this fight, he asked about more money, too. He say, ‘I’m gonna fight this one, but you guys just have to pay me more.’ He come to Abu Dhabi just (to) do good business, you know?”

Makhachev added that Hooker had turned him down as an opponent before, citing the Dagestani’s inability to sell tickets. Having been offered the fight at an Abu Dhabi event, where support will be at an all-time high for Makhachev, Hooker changed his tune, according to the AKA product.

Despite Hooker’s five-round experience, Makhachev also reiterated that a 25-minute limit wouldn’t aid “The Hangman” on fight night. Having seen Hooker fade later on against Dustin Poirier last year, Makhachev firmly believes the request was simply motivated by money, not by a perceived advantage over the longer distance.

“Let’s go. Let’s go. Why not? I asked a lot of times, ‘Hey, give me Hooker’ before. Before he don’t want to fight with me. He say I cannot sell all tickets and ‘If I take this fight…’ something like this. But now, I’m gonna sell for him all tickets in arena. And five rounds, OK, if we watch his fight, five-round fight versus Barboza, versus Poirier, he always have trouble in round #4 and #5. Versus Poirier, almost died there. That’s why I just told you, this is good money fight for him….everybody knows.”

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

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