Make or Break: Dan Hooker Faces High Stakes at UFC 266

Dan Hooker

Getty Dan Hooker celebrates his victory over Al Iaquinta during UFC 243 at Marvel Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.

Popular MMA personality and No. 8-ranked UFC lightweight Dan Hooker will be heading into the Octagon later this month, and it could be viewed by “The Hangman” as the most important contest of his 30-fight professional career.

Hooker is scheduled to meet Nasrat Haqparast during the preliminary card of UFC 266, which takes place September 25 at 10 p.m. Eastern time at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will air as a pay-per-view on ESPN+.


Order UFC 266 Now

The Hangman, who hails from Auckland, New Zealand, is currently on a two-fight losing streak and should he lose to the unranked German, his title aspirations at 155 pounds will be severely jeopardized, especially with how stacked the UFC lightweight division is with stars and talent.

Hooker has a professional MMA record of 20-10, with 17 of his victories coming by way of finish, stopping 10 opponents via KO/TKO and seven by submission. Less than two years ago, the Kiwi was knocking on the door of a shot at gold, but with two consecutive losses to top-ranked contenders, Hooker is back to the drawing board and will look to earn a convincing victory at UFC 266 to start a new wave of momentum toward a title fight.


Fighting for Relevancy in the Top-5 Conversation, Hooker Hopes to Bounce Back After His KO Loss to Michael Chandler

Michael Chandler & Dan Hooker

GettyMichael Chandler punches Dan Hooker during their fight on January 23, 2021, at UFC 257.

The last time Hooker competed was a disaster for the fighter from New Zealand. He welcomed multiple-time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler to the promotion, taking him on in the co-main event of UFC 257 in January 2021. Hooker was tasked to test the newcomer to see if he was the caliber of fighter he claimed he was. And Chandler proved it.

The fight only lasted half of the opening round. Chandler crushed The Hangman with a booming left hand, finishing Hooker by TKO. With the victory, Chandler soared into the top five and Hooker fell down the rankings, suffering his second straight loss in a row.

Hooker is currently hanging on to a top-10 ranking but if he loses to Haqparast, he’ll likely lose the standing, dropping into the top 15 at best. But with a win, he’ll keep his name in the top-10 hat and likely secure a fight with a contender who could move him back up the ladder.

Lightweight is arguably the most stacked division in the UFC, housing big names like Dustin Poirier, Conor McGregor, Justin Gaethje and of course, the 155-pound champion Charles Oliveira. Getting to a title fight in the UFC is one thing, earning it in the talent-rich lightweight division is another. Fighters typically need to hop more hurdles in stacked divisions like lightweight or bantamweight to earn a championship contest, compared to heavier divisions like heavyweight or light heavyweight.

So, a three-fight losing streak does not bode well for Hooker, and he’ll need to ensure that doesn’t happen at UFC 266.

Follow the Heavy on UFC Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!


Hooker Was on the Cusp of a Title Shot Before Losing to Dustin Poirier in June 2020

Dan Hooker

GettyDan Hooker of New Zealand punches Dustin Poirier in their lightweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on June 27, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hooker’s position at lightweight was much different in 2020. In 2017, The Hangman moved back up to 155 pounds from 145 pounds and he went on to win six out of seven matches.

With a three-fight win streak, which included wins over Paul Felder and Al Iaquinta, Hooker rose into the top five and was a stone’s throw away from a title fight.

The man who stood in front of him and the possible fight for gold was Dustin Poirier and the two met in June 2020 during the main event of UFC Vegas 4. In what was one of the most exciting fights of the year, Hooker and the former interim UFC lightweight champion went tit for tat in an exhausting war that had both fighters bruised and bleeding.

But as history has it, “The Diamond” rallied in the fifth round, taking it to Hooker and securing the unanimous decision victory. But even with the loss, The Hangman’s stock didn’t fall far as he had taken the highly respected Poirier into deep waters, showing off his grit and skill.

If Hooker had beaten Chandler in the next fight, he would have been in the conversation for a lightweight title fight, considering Chandler received the shot to compete for the vacant strap against Charles Oliveira in May 2021 at UFC 262.


Haqparast, Who Is 5-1 in His Last 6 Fights, Lost His Mother Earlier This Month

Nasrat Haqparast

GettyNasrat Haqparast punches Alexander Munoz on August 8, 2020.

Haqparast will be entering the cage at UFC 266 with a heavy heart, losing his mother earlier this month. On September 11, the German, who is 5-1 in his last six fights, shared the news on social media of his mother’s passing. He wrote:

My best friend in this world. People who know me knew that my life goal was to please God and my parents. Everything I did was to make you proud and give you happiness. The last 2 years were the hardest of our life and in every prayer I asked Allah with tears in my eyes to give you health. Until the end your words were “Trust in God”. With the hardest chemotherapy you still finished 2 whole Ramadan, never missed a prayer and even complete the “Hadjj” with this disease. Your place is Jannah and I hope you were pleased with me my diamond.

Haqparast has a professional record of 13-3, with nine wins coming by way of KO/TKO. He is riding a two-fight win streak into his fight on September 25, defeating Rafa Garcia in March 2021 and Alexander Munoz in August 2020. Before that, Haqparast suffered a first-round TKO loss to the hard-hitting Drew Dober in January 2020 at UFC 246.

His third loss as a pro was preceded by a three-fight win streak inside the Octagon, defeating Joaquim Silva in August 2019, Thibault Gouti in October 2018 and Marc Diakiese in July 2018.

A win over Hooker would undoubtedly be the most notable of the German’s career and will likely shoot him into the top 15 of the 155-pound division.

READ NEXT: Winner-Take-All Challenge Issued to Jake Paul: ‘Going to Meet Daddy’


Read More
, ,
Comment Here
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x