UFC: All you need to know ahead of Dustin Poirier v Dan Hooker

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 28 Jun 2020, 2:25PM
Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker will fight in the main event of this weekend's UFC Fight Night. Photo / Getty Images

UFC: All you need to know ahead of Dustin Poirier v Dan Hooker

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 28 Jun 2020, 2:25PM

Dan Hooker is ready for his moment.

The quiet riser of the UFC's lightweight division, Hooker has gone underestimated, underrated and under the radar in his climb up the rankings.

Now ranked at No 5, the Kiwi steps into the octagon at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas today against No 3 ranked Dustin Poirier – with the winner emerging as the next man up in the title picture.

As a prize fighter, an opportunity at the UFC title is the ultimate goal for Hooker; and his opportunity to reach that comes in the form of the best possible match-up for the 30-year-old.

"I don't think it's that big of a setback (if I lose)," Hooker explains. "For me, in this fight especially, it's a win-win situation.

"Dustin's the one in the hard spot, he's the one in the win-lose situation. With a win he doesn't gain that much from it and with a loss he slides down the rankings.

"For me, I give myself a great opportunity with a win, but with a loss I don't think I move that far down. I go back, beat up (No 7) Charles Oliveira or someone like that and make my way back into the top five, so it's a win-win opportunity from where I'm sitting."

Hooker is the first international-based fighter to feature on a US-based UFC card since the promotion restarted from a Covid-19 enforced hiatus, with US Ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown organising him a visa; and the match-up against Poirier is a dream fight for the fans – particularly given the setting.

Both Hooker and Poirier have the tools to win a fight in any facet and at any time, and at the UFC Apex they're locking in a cage about 20 per cent less width than the usual UFC octagon. Hooker is the rangier fighter and likes to utilise that length fighting behind his jab and bringing his knees into play. Poirier is no slouch on the feet, but appears to have the advantage should the fight get to the canvas with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

"I know he's going to come to fight and I know he's going to bring the exact same thing I am; we both look to finish and we both look to put on a show.

"We've never been in a boring fight in our lives, so I'm not expecting that to change."

For Hooker, his rise in the UFC has come from trusting his team at Auckland's City Kickboxing and knowing his skillset. While many fighters talk a big game ahead of their bouts and try to predict how it will finish, Hooker chooses to acknowledge the possibility that he might lose in any fight he takes. But with just one loss in seven fights in the UFC lightweight division, Hooker has his sights set on reaching new heights – at the expense of Poirier.

"This is fighting; anything can happen."

Dustin Poirier (3) v Dan Hooker (5)

Tale of the tape (Poirier | Hooker)

Record: 25-6 (1 no contest) | 20-8
Wins by knockout: 12 | 10
Wins by submission: 7 | 7
Height: 175cm | 183cm
Reach: 183cm | 191cm

Most recent result
Poirier: Submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov (September 2019)
Hooker: Split decision win over Paul Felder (February 2020)

TAB Odds: Poirier $1.42 Hooker $2.70

How to watch: Live on ESPN / Sky Sport channel 60 from 10am, or stream the event on Sky Sport Now. Poirier v Hooker will be around 3pm, though times are subject to change.

Bout order

Lightweight main event: Dustin Poirier v Dan Hooker
Welterweight: Mike Perry v Mickey Gall
Middleweight: Brendan Allen v Kyle Daukaus
Heavyweight: Gian Villante v Maurice Greene
Heavyweight: Philipe Lins v Tanner Boser
Catchweight (150lbs): Sean Woodson v Kyle Nelson
Lightweight: Luis Pena v Khama Worthy
Welterweight: Takashi Sato v Jason Witt
Strawweight: Kay Hansen v Jinh Yu Frey
Featherweight: Jordan Griffin v Youssef Zalal

- text by Christopher Reive