Under the Radar at UFC Milwaukee: Dan Hooker

first_imgJoin DAZN and watch Bellator 212 and 213 and more than 100 fight nights a yearAs previously mentioned, he’s got tremendous size for the division and obvious power, plus he operates with a scary amount of confidence with his weapons and has excellent timing. During his fights with Pearson and Miller, Hooker stopped each with a perfectly-placed knee up the middle, catching his veteran opponents as they looked to close the distance with powerful, walk-off strikes.When you combine that with a healthy dose of experience, working with an emerging team and the momentum he carries into this one, Hooker has all the pieces in place to score the biggest win of his career and use this year’s penultimate fight card as a launching pad to massive opportunities next year. Record: 17-7 overall; 7-3 UFCDivision: LightweightTeam: City KickboxingEven though he’s set to take on Edson Barboza in the penultimate bout on Saturday’s final UFC on FOX event in Milwaukee, there are a number of factors conspiring to keep Dan Hooker under the radar heading into this one.First and foremost, he competes in the loaded lightweight division, where four straight finishes — including back-to-back first-round stoppages — means you barely crack the Top 15 and still can’t get a ton of people talking about your run of success.Join DAZN and watch Bellator 212 and 213 and more than 100 fight nights a yearSecondly, his teammate and “Frenemies” co-host, Israel Adesanya, has been the breakout fighter of the year in 2018, collecting four victories, three bonuses, a place in the middleweight Top 10 and a fight with Anderson Silva in early 2019. Although Hooker has been ultra-impressive in his first two appearances this year, it’s hard to stand out when you’re running alongside “The Last Stylebender.”Finally, it feels like people are still a little unsure of whether Hooker’s surge is the real deal, as he struggled to find consistency in six bouts at featherweight. Though he had some very good performances — most notably a knockout victory over Hatsu Hioki — “The Hangman” also landed on the wrong side of the results against Maximo Blanco, Yair Rodriguez and Jason Knight, resulting in a 3-3 record.But making the cut down to the 145-pound limit was partially responsible for that inconsistency, as the New Zealander stands six-foot even and was draining himself the day before the fight in order to make weight. Since he’s stopped “shooting himself in the foot” as he puts it, Hooker has gone a perfect 4-0 with four finishes and carries all kinds of momentum into this weekend’s pairing with Barboza on “Big FOX.”Hooker being under the radar heading into this one, despite having won four straight, underscores some of the problems that exist with the rankings system and the way we talk about fighters.Far too often, established names skate by on pedigree and expired results, while emerging fighters on active win streaks get left behind.While Hooker has gone 4-0 over the last 18 months, Nate Diaz remained several places ahead of him in the lightweight rankings despite not having fought in two years and his last lightweight appearance coming three years ago. It’s not just an issue with the flawed UFC rankings either, as MMA Junkie has fighters such as Michael Chiesa, Al Iaquinta, Paul Felder and Gregor Gillespie all ranked in the Top 15 at lightweight, while Hooker is nowhere to be found, despite snuffing out Gilbert Burns and Jim Miller earlier this year.That’s why Saturday’s showdown with the Top 10 fixture Barboza is a crucial opportunity for Hooker.Even though the Brazilian has suffered back-to-back losses, Barboza remains one of the most dangerous strikers in the lightweight division; a fellow Muay Thai practitioner who has some of the nastiest kicks in the game. He has only lost to elite competition (and Jamie Varner) in his career and if Hooker can add his name alongside current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, former interim champ Tony Ferguson and Saturday’s headliner Kevin Lee as those to best Barboza in the Octagon, there will be no denying him in 2019.And Hooker has the talent to be a factor in the division going forward. Prior to every event, Under the Radar will cast the spotlight on an up-and-coming talent who shows the potential for growth in their division and isn’t getting enough attention as they head into battle.Name: Dan Hookerlast_img read more

Read More →