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Dan Hooker: Paul Felder went ‘too far’ by insulting my family name

Dan Hooker: Paul Felder went ‘too far’ by insulting my family name

Dan Hooker speaks to Joe Rogan at UFC 219
[video src="http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5oHx2uDXOg&t=1271s"]

City Kickboxing’s 2019 campaign was outstanding. The New Zealand gym saw Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski put on performances of a lifetime en route to capturing UFC gold. Now, after going 2-0 in 2019, Dan Hooker (19-8) hopes to cement himself in title contention in the shark tank that is the lightweight division. 

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Hooker takes a step towards that goal when he meets Paul Felder in the main event of UFC Auckland on February 23. This is an important fight for “The Hangman,” as he is not only headlining his first event, but will be doing so on home turf. Yet, even with his countrymen watching, the Auckland local is ready for what he views as the logical development of his vocation. 

“I’m not overwhelmed by any means,” Hooker told John Hyon Ko on Kumite TV.

“To headline in Auckland, it’s been a progression throughout my career. Bigger fights, then pay-per-views, then co-main event, now the main event, it’s just the progression. So it’s been easy to handle because it’s off the slow increase in experience.”

Aside from having 14 fights with the promotion, Hooker cites a “brotherhood” in a “very, very competitive” gym for his confidence. Unlike other gyms Hooker has attended, he claims there is no hierarchy at City Kickboxing. No matter the accolades of their gym mates, the fighters do not let themselves be lulled into being complacent. 

“[In other gyms] everyone knows who the top dogs are and when they’re sparring they try really hard not to hurt them. Then they get this false sense of security because they’re not being pushed in the gym. They’re not getting beaten up in the gym and the younger guys aren’t trying to take them out and it kind of makes the older guys fall asleep. That’s not happened at City Kickboxing. I’ve got young guys on my heels and they want my spot. So yeah, we’ve kept a real competitive environment,” Hooker detailed. 

Trash-talk is a part of the fight game. Fans and fighters know this and a little verbal sparring can help increase interest in the bout. A fighter saying they’re going to knock an opponent out is nothing new and doesn’t bother the veteran of 27 MMA fights. When Paul Felder said he would do so in front of Hooker’s friends and family, it wasn’t a big deal. What has struck a chord with Hooker this time around was what he considers a disrespect towards his family surname. 

“You know, after the Iaquinta fight, he [Paul Felder] puts up this meme of someone picking up a prostitute. I couldn’t have been more respectful when I called Paul out face-to-face like a man and his response to that is to insult my family name. So, I say, ‘I’m going to smash his face’ when the fight gets announced and he responds the same way; by putting a meme out that says ‘backhands are good enough for a Hooker.’”      

“I don’t know what the culture is like in America, maybe it’s a bit different, but where I’m from in New Zealand, especially in Maori culture, to insult someone’s family name is to insult the whole line. I would never even think to do a photo back. Look, I get it ‘Hooker.’ Great. You say it to my face I’m going to chin you. Even now as a payback I would never insult a family name because you’re insulting a whole line of people. For me, that was too far.”

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