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Dan Hooker says he was “being a little b*tch” in Edson Barboza fight

Dan Hooker says he was “being a little b*tch” in Edson Barboza fight

Dan Hooker competes at UFC Milwaukee

In December, Dan Hooker squared off against top contender Edson Barboza.

Leading up to the contest, Hooker was riding a four-fight win streak, and despite striking being his opponent’s forte, he remained adamant that he would stand and trade with the Brazilian. The 29-year-old made it to the third and final round before succumbing to a shattering body kick. Although he never walked away victorious, his toughness, grit, and determination was nothing short of spectacular.

“He’s got nothing to be upset about. He showed a ton of toughness tonight, a ton of heart,” said UFC president Dana White during the post-fight show on FOX, highlighting the Kiwi’s toughness.

In his return to the octagon, Dan Hooker is scheduled to face James Vick at UFC San Antonio on July 20. He spoke with John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock about his upcoming fight, facing criticism and mentoring other fighters.

New challenges

The UFC returns to Texas on July 20 with a stacked card full of high caliber talent. The likes of Rafael Dos Anjos, Leon Edwards, Aleksei Oleinik, and Alexander Hernandez will all be competing. So to will Dan Hooker.

“The Hangman” explained what he was doing during his eight months away from the octagon.

“I’ve been training pretty much the whole year. just at the gym, making improvements and getting better. But as you say I like to stay busy with things, [build] my gym; always improving.”

“That’s the longest amount of time off I’ve had my entire career. The longest time away from fights, the longest time away from training – I feel like I’ve just kind of hit the reset button. I feel like I’m starting fresh again.”

He briefly mentioned his previous fight against Barboza, the criticism he received, and why he shouldn’t have to explain his performance.

“It was what it was. There are two people I gave an explanation to in the entire world and that’s my mother and my wife. And besides that, I don’t feel like anyone else is entitled to a genuine explanation. The people that are close enough to me know that to me, it’s just water off a duck’s back. That by far is my first ass-whooping and I can guarantee you it’s not going to be the last one.”

“I thought I was being a little bitch on the night, I was having one of my softer days.”

Dan Hooker remains one of the most feared men at 155-pounds. His ability to counter with high accuracy and mix up offense with knees and other techniques has allowed him to defeat the likes of Jim Miller, Ross Pearson, and Marc Diakiese – all of whom fell victim to the Kiwi’s well-rounded arsenal of attacks.

His opponent, James Vick, is one of the tallest fighters in the lightweight division, standing at 6-foot-3 inches. Vick has a distinct size and reach advantage over Hooker, who is three inches shorter.

“This will be the tallest guy I’ve ever fought so it will be real interesting. But [he’s] far from the tallest guy I’ve had to train with – it’s a body type that I’ve had to deal with for the last decade, so behind the scenes I think I’ve got a solid plan in place for fighting taller guys. I guess no one’s ever seen it because I’ve always been fighting people shorter than me.”

“For me, it’s a challenge, it’s interesting. I get to come back, I get to work on something new and I get to show the people something they have never seen.”

City Kickboxing

The lightweight division is the most talent-stacked weight class in the UFC, just take a peek at the top 10 of the division and you’ll find Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dustin Poirier, Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, and many more.

It was recently announced that Khabib Nurmagomedov will be defending his crown against interim champion Dustin Poirier in Abu Dhabi, September 7. Many believe that Poirier is the man to finally break the undefeated Russian, and Hooker believes he has the ability to do so.

“Dustin’s a real threat to Khabib. He’s been training at ATT [American Top Team] for a long time and that’s a wrestling based gym. He’s a very strong grappler so I feel like stylistically it’s probably going to be more difficult to hold Dustin down than any opponent Khabib’s [faced] previously. And as we know, Dustin gets more dangerous as the fight goes on, so I feel like his ability to scramble back to his feet, stuff takedowns and the cardio he brings to the table along with non-stop power and non-stop boxing [is enough to win]. I’m kind of leaning towards Dustin in the later rounds.”

“The Hangman” trains out of City Kickboxing in Auckland, New Zealand, which is home to some of the world’s best talent, such as Alexander Volkanovski, Kai Kara-France and interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.

As the gym is beginning to mold perennial UFC contenders, it only makes sense to keep an eye on the next generation of fighters who will be making a name for themselves in the near future.

“I feel like there’s a few guys people need to keep their eyes on, like Brad Riddell and his transition to MMA, [he] is going to be pretty dangerous. He’s one of the best kickboxers in the world, he’s an explosive guy and he’s not far off the UFC level. Another one is a light heavyweight coming through: Carlos Ulberg.”

“He’s one of the only guys, [along] with Israel [Adesanya], to win the King of the Ring, eight-man tournament at two different weight divisions. So he’s got two King of the Ring titles and is undefeated in MMA,” said Hooker. “He is a definite future superstar in the light heavyweight division.”

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