Hooker ready for biggest fight in UFC career

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Despite the chaos that surrounds the world, Ngāti Maniapoto's Dan "The Hangman" Hooker goes back to mahi this Sunday when he headlines his next UFC Fight Night against an opponent he called out in October, third-ranked lightweight Dustin Poirier.

Dan Hooker highlight reel. Source: Facebook.com/UFC

Following the success of UFC Fight Night: Felder vs Hooker at Spark Arena in Auckland in February, where Aotearoa hosted its third live UFC event, the "Hangman" has been waiting patiently (or impatiently, rather) to get back into the Octagon to climb the ranks once more. 

That fight saw the City Kickboxing fighter take it to the limit and beyond against Paul "The Irish Dragon" Felder in a fight so physical that both men left the arena in ambulances.

Hooker ultimately won by a split-decision to assert himself as the fifth-ranked lightweight, with both fighters showing admirable respect for each other post-fight.

Dan Hooker thanks Aotearoa and opponent Paul Felder.  Source: Facebook.com/UFC

But that was then, and this is now. The most stacked weight division in all of UFC looks to put on another spectacle in Poirier vs Hooker.

Hooker took aim at Poirier in October, after beating opponent Al Iaquinta at UFC 243 (dubbed the "Anzac Takeover"). After his hand was raised in victory, he stood in the Octagon looking directly into the camera with a microphone in hand and said:

"Dustin Poirier: I'm gonna smash your face in!"

"The Diamond" responded in kind, with both men going off on Twitter to add fuel to the fire. Ever since then, fans have waited impatiently to see this bout come to fruition.

Poirier has had somewhat of a taste of championship gold already. As interim lightweight champion, Poirier had a go at the current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in a unification bout but in the end lost that fight.

Poirier has not had a match since that bout in September but that is not to say he will have any rust on him. His experience of fighting the likes of decorated former champion Max Holloway, Nate Diaz and current interim champion Justin Gaethje means he can still hang with the best of them, and he is ranked higher than Hooker - for now.


UFC Fight Night Poirier vs Hooker featurette. Source: Facebook.com/UFC

"I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to pick fights and I'm here to feed my family. If I beat Dustin Poirier, it sets me next in line for the title," Hooker says in a promo for the fight. "If you make one mistake; I'm gonna cave your head in."

Poirier is not taking a backward step either.

"Dan's fights have been impressive, you don't make it into the top of the lightweight division on accident. The guy has proven himself but I'm a different animal. I'm going out to finish this guy," says Poirier.

The chapters have been written to bring the two together in what will be an epic fight for UFC fans around the world to relish. Their battle commences on Sunday, 28 June on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass.

"The Hangman" versus "The Diamond." Dan versus Dustin. As Hooker puts it, "It's officially smash-facing time!"



Poirier faces off against Hooker. Source: Facebook.com/UFC