Dan Hooker scores 11th UFC victory with win over German fighter Nasrat Haqparast

updated By Mana Wikaire-Lewis
Credit / ESPN

Having asked anyone to step up for a 'scrap' on the UFC 266 card over a month ago, a visa approved last Monday, and landing in Vegas just a couple of days ago, Dan 'The Hangman' Hooker is back with his 11th UFC victory by unanimous decision.

Happening in Las Vegas on Saturday night (Sunday afternoon NZ time), the no.8 ranked lightweight dominated German fighter Nasrat Haqparast in Hooker's first fight since January this year.

From the opening bell, Haqparast was being chased by the bigger Hooker but was not afraid to throw bombing hooks back in response, in a somewhat calm test of striking between the two.

Hooker came back in the next round, forcing Haqparast against the cage and landing numerous knee strikes to his frame. He also landed an emphatic slam off the cage to the ground in the contest's first takedown, with almost a minute left in the second round.

Though the T Mobile Arena was not completely full, fans were electric and chanted the Ngāti Maniapoto descendant's name throughout the fight.

The third and final round saw Hooker land a second takedown. And even though Haqparast escaped a submission attempt from behind, Hooker came back again to Haqparast's back, ending the fight with some scrappy ground game on top of his opponent.

When it all ended, the three judges scored the contest 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26, with Hooker's hand raised in victory - the first time since the last UFC live event in Auckland in February 2020.

Talking to UFC commentator and former UFC champion Daniel Cormier post-fight, Hooker paid huge respect to his opponent, acknowledging Haqparast's similar visa problems and also the passing of his mother.

"It's incredible that he [Haqparast] showed up, it's nothing on me. My journey is very easy compared to him, so credit to him, he's got a massive future."

Hooker gave thanks to his supporters back home and even thanked "everyone that tried to stop me from being here tonight, because you gave me the motivation to get here.

"Don't hunt what you can't kill, baby!"

And as the post-fight interview closed, Hooker came out with a final message directly to a particular no.3 ranked lightweight.

"I heard  [Beneil] Dariush is looking for a fight. I'm your man, friend. Whenever you wanna go, you're a coward if you duck me!"