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UFC 267 Predictions: Dan Hooker vs. Islam Makhachev betting odds, fight breakdown

UFC 267 Predictions: Dan Hooker vs. Islam Makhachev betting odds, fight breakdown

UFC 267 Predictions: Dan Hooker vs. Islam Makhachev betting odds, fight breakdown 3

One of the most game fighters in the UFC, Dan Hooker returns to the octagon after a unanimous decision win only one month ago. Professionally, the 31-year old lightweight is 21-10 with 10 knockouts, 7 submissions, and 4 decision wins. He is 3-2 in his last five fights; but, as I mentioned in my previous article about “Hangman,” he’s been fighting top-tier lightweights for years.

His opponent, Islam Makhachev is one year younger and holds an impressive 20-1 professional record. His wins are dispersed among three knockouts, nine submissions, and eight decisions. His sole loss was a knockout in 2015.

This weekend’s UFC 267 fight card is a special non-pay-per-view numbered event and that means ESPN+ subscribers can enjoy two title fights and a stacked main card at no added cost. Fight fans can subscribe to ESPN+ here.

Hooker vs. Makhachev Betting Odds

Becoming a pattern, Makhachev enters as the largest favorite on the card. Hooker, therefore, is the biggest underdog.

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Hooker vs. Makhachev Breakdown

Hooker fought just four weeks ago and it went exactly as expected. He pushed a solid pace, struck well from range, dominated the clinch, and landed with accuracy in route to a comfortable decision. Hooker has been using this blueprint for years. He excels in wars of attrition because he is tough as nails and has the cardio to keep coming forward. A City Kickboxing product, Hooker, unsurprisingly, has high-end kickboxing skills. His leg kicks at range and clinch knees specifically are where he shines. More importantly though, in a fight against one of the best wrestlers in the division, Hooker holds an 80% takedown defense. He’ll need to keep that percentage if he hopes to win Saturday. But, a man with his skill set, heart, and unwillingness to quit can’t be counted out. Hooker needs to make this fight ugly, pressure-heavy, and gritty; all of which are situations in which he excels.

Makhachev is well known and has enormously high expectations. He was dubbed as the heir to Khabib’s lightweight throne by the UFC and Khabib himself. Since those expectations were placed on his shoulders, Makhachev has done nothing but impress. He has not lost a fight since 2015; and, honestly, has not had a fight be all that close either. Makhachev is an exceptional wrestler, implementing that Dagestani approach with hand locks and heavy pressure. He averages 3.3 takedowns per fight and 1 submission attempt. Makhachev is extraordinary at getting the fight to the ground without absorbing damage on the feet (only absorbs .77 significant strikes per minute). Then, once on the ground, the lightweight can smother his opponent for a decision; or, more regularly, get the finish. Thus far, aside from one blemish, his fight strategy and skill to implement it has been perfect.

Hooker vs. Makhachev Prediction

Hooker will likely attempt to pressure Makhachev, tag him on the feet, and make him uncomfortable. Unfortunately for Hooker, many others have tried this already and failed. Even if he can stuff early takedowns and force Makhachev to a striking match for a while, it’s nearly an inevitability that Makhachev gets the fight to the ground. Once there, Hooker likely won’t get back up.

Prediction: Makhachev by submission

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