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Dan Hooker wants to finish Al Iaquinta to send message to top five

Dan Hooker wants to finish Al Iaquinta to send message to top five

Dan "The Hangman" Hooker warms up before his UFC bout

Dan Hooker plans on sending a message to the rest of the division when he faces Al Iaquinta.

The two lightweights meet in the co-main event of UFC 243 which takes place Saturday in Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium. For Hooker, it’s another chance at showing he belongs towards the top of the division.

Having previously called for a higher-ranked opponent, Hooker got what he wished for in Edson Barboza last December. However, “The Hangman” was thoroughly outclassed by the Brazilian and eventually suffered his first career TKO defeat.

He would bounce back with a knockout win over James Vick in July, and now gets a shot at the #6 ranked Iaquinta. A win over the New Yorker would not only see Hooker overtake him in the rankings, but put him just below the real killers in the division.

And in order to get their attention, Hooker plans on finishing Iaquinta.

“A win over Iaquinta sets the scene and opens a lot of doors,” Hooker said in a recent EMG Access video. “After him, there’s only huge names in the sport, the lightweight division is so stacked. The top five of the lightweight division is just huge names in the UFC, huge names in MMA. So I feel like, not only I’ll win against Iaquinta, but I feel like if I can put him away either by stoppage or knockout, that sends a real strong message.

“Because guys like Cowboy, guys like Khabib haven’t been able to take him out over five rounds. So if I can do it in three, it sends a very strong message to the top five guys that I’m a real threat.”

Hooker is only ranked #15 so it’s all the more admirable that Iaquinta called for the fight to take place following the former’s callout. However, the New Zealander feels Iaquinta is only taking the fight because he feels it’s a winnable one.

And Hooker plans on proving him wrong.

“I still don’t feel like he’s given a genuine answer as to why he took this fight,” he added. “Obviously, he thinks that this fight greatly favors him. Like you wouldn’t fight a dangerous guy that’s that lower-ranked unless you thought this is a fight that will get you back on track.

“He obviously sees something in me that he can beat. He’s obviously looking at me like I’m very beatable or he wouldn’t have accepted the fight or accepted it that easy. So that’s something I’m very aware of and that’s why I put so much hard work into this camp. I’m going to prove him wrong.”

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