Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Michael Chandler Explains Why He Didn’t Want To Fight Dan Hooker

One-time UFC lightweight title challenger Michael Chandler has explained why Dan Hooker would’ve never been the preference for his debut fight in the promotion.

In 2020, Chandler joined the MMA leader and departed Bellator, where he’d held the 155-pound gold in three separate reigns. After serving as backup in Abu Dhabi for Khabib Nurmagomedov‘s title defense against Justin Gaethje, “Iron” returned to Fight Island three months later for his debut at UFC 257.

There, he shared the Octagon with perennial contender Dan Hooker. Despite facing a man who’d won seven of his first eight lightweight outings, including a 2021 main event against Paul Felder, and was coming off a 25-minute war with Dustin Poirier, Chandler finished proceedings in just two minutes and 30 seconds.

Unsurprisingly, the quick UFC 257 co-main event win was quickly branded one of the greatest and most impactful debut performances in the promotion’s history. Providing evidence to that claim, Chandler found himself competing for UFC gold in just his second Octagon appearance.

But despite the victory and what followed, Chandler has now admitted that Hooker was far from a desirable first opponent for him.

Chandler Didn’t Want To Play Hangman

During a recent collaboration with MMA on Point, Chandler reacted to the pre- and post-fight words of his UFC opponents thus far.

Upon being showed a clip of Hooker suggesting he represented a terrible matchup for him prior to their January 2021 collision, Chandler responded by agreeing. According to the #5-ranked lightweight contender, Hooker’s frame and toughness put him low down on his list of preferred debut foes.

“I didn’t really wanna fight Dan Hooker. I did not want to fight Dan Hooker,” Chandler said whilst laughing. “You’re coming into the UFC, Dan Hooker’s six foot seven, he is a long, rangey guy. That was the fact of the matter. I did not wanna fight Dan Hooker. He’d just gone 25 minutes with Dustin Poirier, heart of a champion, long and rangey striker. Even if you do get him down, he wriggles and moves… He’s a scary one.”

Nevertheless, Hooker is who Chandler was given and Hooker is who Chandler decimated in quick time. And since then, “Iron” hasn’t slowed down, sharing the cage for barnburners with Charles Oliveira and Justin Gaethje, and brutally knocking Tony Ferguson out with a front kick.

Now, having rebounded against “El Cucuy,” Chandler will look to secure a second opportunity at reaching the UFC’s lightweight mountaintop by adding the name of Dustin Poirier to his record’s win column. The pair are set to collide at UFC 281 this weekend.

Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.

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