UFC Fight Night Auckland Fighter Profile – Dan Hooker

Photo Credit: Josh Hedges – Zuffa LLC 

On Saturday night, lightweight contender, Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker, returns to home soil, as a native hero. The Auckland born striker headlines for the first time under the UFC banner, as he takes on division rival, Paul ‘The Irish Dragon’ Felder. The steely Kiwi has recovered from a brutal battering at the hands and legs of Edson Barboza to notch a two-fight winning rise at 155-pounds.

Since his return to lightweight back in the summer of 2017 – Hooker has been nothing short of a revelation. With just the single loss to Barboza hampering his continued rise, the 30-year-old has managed an astonishing six wins, over some of the division’s mainstays. Ross Pearson, Jim Miller, Gilbert Burns, and James Vick were all finished in convincing fashion. In his last outing in the co-main event of UFC 242 in Australia, Hooker comfortably nabbed a unanimous decision win over Al Iaquinta – securing the #7 rank at 155-pounds.

Facing Philadelphia born kickboxer, Paul Felder has long been a goal for Hooker – with the New Zealand favourite calling out the Roufusport staple during a post-fight interview to his face, after his knockout of Jim Miller. Almost two years later, we’ve got Felder vs. Hooker in Auckland – a matchup which promises fireworks between two of the most durable competitors on the promotion’s books.

In his ten career wins, Hooker has managed seven, rather devastating knockout victories. Along with his ability to finish a first with his varied offensive weaponry on the feet – Hooker is almost impossible to finish. Just one has managed to stop the Auckland native on the feet, the aforementioned Barboza – and that finish came as a result of a damaging three rounds of body attacks.

As noted earlier, Hooker has a wide array of weapons in which he can utilise to finish a bout. Both Ross Pearson, and Jim Miller were halted with knee strikes. Hatsu Hioki was finished with a brutal head kick, and James Vick was stopped with a one-punch knockout. Against the similarly steely, Felder, Hooker must utilise all of his offensive arsenals to prevent a result reminiscent of his outing against fellow talented kicker, Barboza.

In Felder’s professional career, he’s dropped four defeats, two of which are extremely contentious, and one forced to a halt due to a cut. In his first outing against Brazil’s Barboza, Felder was handed a unanimous decision loss but held his own on occasion. He recently managed to draw level with the Muay Thai practitioner, taking a close, two card sway in Abu Dhabi at UFC 242.

Professional records aside – both Hooker and Felder are two of the most notoriously difficult opponents to put away at lightweight ever. Nevertheless, a win of any sort on Saturday night for both men, propel them significantly toward the upper-echelon of the 155-pound stack. Both would extend their win streaks to three – and would conceivably, be a single win away from their first championship tilt in the Octagon.

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