Hooker returns to featherweight; flyweight champ wants Kara-France

By Te Ao - Māori News

UFC fight fans have an exciting couple of months ahead of them with four City Kickboxing fighters poised to take to the octagon, and one more fighter just confirmed his next bout earlier today.

Ngāti Maniapoto uri Dan "The Hangman" Hooker will be going back to where it all started, to the featherweight division. The person to welcome him back to 145lbs will be undefeated featherweight Arnold Allen, and it will be Allen's home crowd advantage when they fight at UFC London, on March 19 [March 20 NZ time].

His last fight saw Hooker take a submission loss to lightweight Islam Makhachev at UFC 267 at the end of October last year, a fight that he took on a month's notice after winning against Nasrat Haqparast earlier. After that bout with Makhachev "The Hangman" teased a return to featherweight in an Instagram post.

Dan hits the scales. Credit: Instagram / @danhangman.


Hooker, ranked #8 in the lightweights, was last in the featherweight division back in December 2016 after a decision loss to Jason Knight. 

"Allmighty" Arnold Allen has yet to suffer a loss in the octagon, riding on a 10-fight win streak, including eight since he joined the UFC. The Ipswich-born fighter is the #7 ranked featherweight. However, his eight fights in the UFC have only had him at two submission wins and the rest by decision.

This fight takes place at an event that hasn't seen the UFC in England since before the pandemic.  

The new flyweight champ speaks to 'Don't Blink'

The Champ wants Kai next. Credit: YouTube / UFC - Ultimate Fighting Championship.


Pay-per-view UFC cards returned with a bang on Sunday, and the road to the flyweight title just became a lot clearer for Ngāti Kahungunu fighter Kaiwhare 'Don't Blink' Kara-France.

In a stunning Sunday flyweight title showdown at UFC 270, Brazil's Deiveson Figueiredo reclaimed his gold over defending champion Brandon Moreno in an epic match, closing off a trilogy of incredible fights and leaving fans wondering if there will ever be a fourth bout in their rivalry.

Speaking to media in the UFC post-fight conference,  when he was asked who he'd want to fight next for the title next, Figueiredo made a special mention of the Te Ao Toa presenter.

"Kai Kara-France, obviously. I feel like it's a guy that I want to knock down, I wanna knock him out. He knocked Cody Garbrandt, so that's the guy that I wanted to knock out. So basically, it's not in my interest to fight Cody, so it's Kai Kara-France."

When word circulated around social media, Kai responded in kind.

The champ spoke, Kai replies. Credit: Facebook/ Kai "Don't blink" Kara-France.


Deiveson's reference to Kai knocking out Cody Garbrandt was 'Don't Blink's message to the world that he is indeed a flyweight contender. Garbrandt had made the drop-down from bantamweight to flyweight but lost his debut thanks to Kara-France last year in December. 

Kai is now riding momentum and hoping to continue his winning ways and eventually get a flyweight title opportunity. But first, he has one more obstacle in the way; Askar Askarov, when the two fighters meet to determine the next flyweight contender on March 27.

In just a few more weeks, NZ fight fans will get to see their fighters back in the octagon with UFC 271. Multiple King in the Ring winner Blood Diamond makes his highly anticipated debut in the welterweights and "Black Jag" Carlos Ulberg (Tainui, Te Atiawa, Hāmoa) looks to notch his first UFC win against light heavyweight fighter Fabio Cherant. 

Their City Kickboxing teammate and middleweight champion Israel Adesanya will defend the gold against the man he took it from, Ngāpuhi's Robert Whittaker, in a much anticipated second fight to main event UFC 271, happening on February 13 (NZ time).