Thursday, December 2, 2021

Michael Chandler Explains Why He Picks Hooker To Upset Makhachev

Former UFC lightweight title challenger Michael Chandler has given his prediction for his former opponent Dan Hooker‘s upcoming clash with Islam Makhachev.

On short notice, Hooker will be facing Makhachev on the main card of UFC 267 this weekend. The Dagestani was originally set to face bitter rival Rafael dos Anjos at the Abu Dhabi-held event. For the third time since last October, that matchup collapsed in the build-up. Following surgery, the Brazilian was forced to pull out and, should Makhachev secure a victory on Saturday, will likely be moving onto different things when he returns to action.

For Hooker, this will mark his second Octagon outing in just over a month. “The Hangman” rebounded from back-to-back setbacks against Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler with a mature performance against Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266. Just days later, the New Zealander found himself signing another bout agreement, this time against the #5-ranked lightweight, and the heir apparent to the great Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Chandler Backs His Former Opponent

Having risen to #6 in the 155-pound top 15, Hooker will be looking to stake his claim for a title shot with an impressive performance against the surging Makhachev on Saturday’s main card. But many have doubted his ability to handle the Dagestani. Along with AKA head coach Javier Mendez, Khabib, Makhachev’s friend and teammate, believes a “lucky punch” is the only way his man falls short against the New Zealander.

While Hooker himself has disputed those claims, top-five lightweight Michael Chandler has also expressed his disagreement with that assessment. “Iron,” who faced and defeated “The Hangman” in his UFC debut earlier this year, recently explained why he’s backing the underdog to have his hand raised.

During an interview with The Schmo, Chandler denied the idea that his first-round win against Hooker showed any sort of weakness in the 31-year-old’s toughness or chin. But not only does he not see a path to a finish for Makhachev, but the former Bellator Lightweight Champion believes Hooker will use his length to keep the Russian at distance and defend against his attempts to control the action on the cage.

“Man, I think Dan Hooker is one of the toughest guys in the division, one of the toughest chins in the division, and I think this is a fight game in which we fight in four-ounce gloves, man. You can get caught on the chin by anybody on any night and it’s over. So the fact that I was able to finish him in the first two and a half minutes is not indicative of him not having a great chin, not being able to push the pace. He’s extremely long. He’s extremely versatile. He uses that length. I think Makachev is gonna have a tough time getting in and closing the distance on Dan Hooker. Even if he does get him on the cage, I think Dan Hooker’s cage defense—as we saw in Poirier fight, as we saw in his last fight, both offense and defense off of the cage control—he’s really skilled there. So I do think Dan Hooker wins that fight. I do.”

Having suggested he’d rather outclass his opponent across three rounds and secure a dominant decision, Hooker will be happy to hear Chandler predicting him to do just that.

Do you agree with Michael Chandler’s prediction? Can Hooker defeat Makhachev at UFC 267?

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