Thursday, May 19, 2022

Dan Hooker Details Big Weight Lifted Off His Shoulders For UFC London

Ahead of UFC London, fan favorite Dan Hooker has revealed one heavy weight that’s been lifted off his shoulders since his last Octagon appearance.

This weekend sees a host of returns. While the promotion is returning to England’s capital for the first time since 2019, Hooker will be heading back to the featherweight division for the first time since transitioning to lightweight in 2017.

A 7-1 start at 155 pounds seemingly suggested “The Hangman” had found his ideal division and was set to make a run for gold. But three defeats in his last four fights have forced a change.

Despite feeling he can still compete with the best at lightweight, Hooker acknowledged that he can’t contend there until the landscape at the top changes. With that in mind, he’s ready to return to a weight he believes he can thrive at.

In the UFC London co-main event this Saturday, the New Zealander will jump straight into the mix against #7-ranked contender Arnold Allen.

While a return to his old stomping ground is reason enough to be excited, on March 19, Hooker will be fighting for the first time without the cloud of travel uncertainty looming overhead.

Hooker Excited To Embrace Post-Fight “Freedom”

Fighters across the world have dealt with adversity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But not many have had the kind of struggles that have plagued Dan Hooker.

Those issues were well publicized prior to UFC 266 last September. Hooker, who fought and defeated Haqparast at the US-held event, was forced to train away from his gym due to the lockdown in place at the time, even encountering the police when he attempted to use his facility.

Coupled with that were visa issues. When the veteran made a social media appeal calling for the process to be completed in time for the event, it seemed his fight was in jeopardy. Eventually, he made it to America the day before the weigh-ins.

As if that wasn’t hard enough, Hooker has also spent extended periods away from his family due to his inability to re-enter the country following his bouts. However, that is no longer the case.

During an appearance on The MMA Hour on Monday, Hooker revealed his relief at the opening of borders in New Zealand for the country’s citizens.

“Freedom. We’re like, we’re back. There’s (still) restrictions, but not to our training. Our training will never be shut down again. We’re through it. Our border is now open for New Zealand citizens, so I can go and fight, and I can come home, which is just unreal. It’s unreal the weight that that lifts off your shoulders.”

While he often appeared calm and unfazed by his lengthy stays in the US and away from his wife and child, “The Hangman” admitted it played on his mind during his fights.

“You play it pretty cool when people are like, ‘Oh, you’re gonna go over and fight and then you’re not gonna be home for four months,’ and you’re like, ‘Yeah, yeah. I’m not gonna think about that.’ Of course, that plays on your mind when you’re fighting, especially—I’m not saying it’s any kind of excuse, but with the kind of fights I get myself into take a certain amount of time to recover from, months.

Dan Hooker says City Kickboxing will likely relocate from New Zealand due  to lockdown rules: 'Our hand is forced' - Opera News
Dan Hooker

“And that’s the part of fighting that people don’t see. They see you on the television and a couple days after the fight, every now and then when you post something on social media, but I’ve had some fights in my career that have taken months to recover from. Being back home, being on your couch, being surrounded by your friends, your family, having my child there, my wife there; that is everything. That helps you heal.”

Following his clash at UFC London, Hooker will be able to immediately fly out and reunite with his family, who he’s yet to see in 2022.

“Of course, it would play on your mind when you’re going away to fight and you can’t do any of that, you can’t see any of those people, and you’re going to be stranded in a foreign country with no friendly faces for months on end. It definitely changes the ingredients. But now it’s all changed. We’re back to normal. I fly straight back home. It’s just like, a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

With travel stress gone and the anticipation for a new venture at featherweight, we could well see a new Dan Hooker take to the cage on March 19. If he makes a successful return to the division, featherweight will have the addition of another top contender.

Do you expect Dan Hooker to make a successful return to featherweight by defeating Arnold Allen this weekend?

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