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UFC 266 Predictions: Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast odds, analysis

UFC 266 Predictions: Dan Hooker vs. Nasrat Haqparast odds, analysis

Dan Hooker

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Just two fights ago, Hooker was the main event against Dustin Poirier and the two put on one of the best fights of the year. Since then, Poirier’s popularity (and bank account) has risen, while the #8 ranked lightweight Hooker, following a knockout loss, is fighting an unranked opponent on the prelim card.

At 20-10 professionally, and winless in his last two, Hooker will look to get an emphatic win to get him back in the limelight. Haqparast, 26-years-old, and 13-3 professionally, is not just some unnamed, unranked, and unrecognized lightweight. He is 5-2 in the UFC, has impressive decision wins in back-to-back fights, and is looking to crack the rankings by beating a well-known name like “Hangman.”

Hooker vs. Haqparast Betting Odds

Hooker is just short of a 2:1 favorite over Haqparast who returns 1.5 times your money with a win.

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Hooker vs. Haqparast Breakdown

Hooker is a veteran fighter who has an impressive resume and exciting style. Despite fighting a murderers’ row, Hooker is 7-3 in his last 10 fights. Hooker is a sharp and successful fighter at range, mixing in a variety of kickboxing strikes. But, he makes his hay in the clinch where he can cut, break, and/or finish his opponent with his famous knees and elbows. Hooker excels in wars of attrition; and, with his solid cardio and chin, tends to keep the fight in the pocket as much as possible. Because of this style, he has a neutral strike differential. However, with his heart, toughness, and devastating knees, a neutral strike differential is a successful strategy for the New Zealander.

Haqparast is currently struggling with the horrible loss of his mother; but, decided to still fight. That dedication and determination is a microcosm of how Haqparast fights in the cage. He is incredibly durable, is able to walk forward through strikes, and keep fighting. He is a strong wrestler but primarily looks to strike. Haqparast’s boxing combines technique with creativity and a right hand that has put nine different men down. He keeps solid volume, landing 5.8 significant strikes per minute and only takes 3.2. Overall, Haqparast is a technically sound boxer, with intelligent defense, and a wrestling game to fall back on. However, his best attribute might be his ability to finish strong. In his last fight, he threw 57, 71, and then 87 strikes per round. That ability to keep unloading helps him win decisions if his opponent stays standing.

Hooker vs. Haqparast Prediction

Hooker has been criticized for making fights closer at the end than they should be because of his lower volume as the fight goes on; meanwhile, Haqparast improves as the fight prolongs. Based on reputation, this gives Haqparast the edge. However, I don’t think it’ll be enough. Hooker can match Haqparast at boxing range; but, I haven’t seen Haqparast succeed in the clinch. Hooker will make this fight ugly and uncomfortable. While he might lose round three to low volume, I anticipate Hooker winning round one and two.

Prediction: Hooker by decision

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