Dan Hooker still hopes he ends up facing Tony Ferguson next.
Hooker last competed in June when he was outpointed by Dustin Poirier in a back-and-forth war that lasted the full 25 minutes. Many observers still rate it as arguably the best fight of 2020 so far.
It’s been nearly three months since and “Hangman” is now ready to return to action. He’s already spoken of wanting to face Ferguson since and “El Cucuy” remains his top choice even today.
However, a close second is new UFC signing Michael Chandler followed by the exciting and red-hot Charles Oliveira.
“Top pick hands down would have to be Tony Ferguson,” Hooker told Submission Radio in a recent interview. “That’s a fight that I would love to jump in. Just because of the mystique around Tony Ferguson. I would love to get in there and just compete with the guy.
“But coming in at a close second, Michael Chandler. You throw him in for a world title, you throw him in first fight as the backup for a world title, that definitely shows the stock that the UFC is putting into that guy, and I would love to get in there and knee him in the face.
“Third, I keep getting broken translations from random reporters that like ‘Charles Oliveira’s calling you out, Charles is calling you out’. Where? Charles Oliveira, get on a video, say, ‘Dan Hooker, I want to fight you’. It’s not a difficult thing to do. I don’t speak Portuguese, my friend, I cannot understand you. I cannot understand translations. Say it to me, and we’ll put that fight together and we’ll make it happen. Any of those three. Tony Ferguson, Michael Chandler, Charles Oliveira, put your hand up, we’ll get in there. Who wants to get in there and compete?”
Ferguson was expected to battle Poirier on the UFC 254 main card on October 24. However, negotiations fell through on Poirier’s side and Chandler was instead offered to both fighters.
In the end, Ferguson and Poirier remained loyal to each other which allowed Chandler to become the official UFC 254 backup for the lightweight title unification fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.
If Hooker was allowed the opportunity to step in and face Ferguson, he would have taken it. It’s just that the UFC never reached out to him about it.
“100 percent I would have taken that opportunity. Yeah, it’s short. Yeah, it’s this, yeah it’s that. I would have 100 percent jumped on a plane and welcomed that opportunity with open arms,” Hooker said. “But obviously… well, the UFC wants to inject some new blood into the division, and that’s not something that I’m opposed to.
“So, yeah, just let me welcome the kid. You want to bring him over? I’m a top five fighter and I’m putting my hand up to say that I’m gonna give him an opportunity and I’m gonna welcome him to the UFC.”
Whoever Hooker does end up fighting, he plans on competing before the end of 2020 as he looks to continue climbing up the lightweight ranks.
“I’m 100 percent gonna get back in there before the end of the year,” he added. “That’s something I’m very set on. I’ve had a good amount of time to recover, I’m back in the gym, I’m fit, I’m training and I’m ready to jump in a camp and get back in there.
“So, late November, December, my schedule’s wide open. So, we’re gonna book something.”
You can watch the full interview below: