Dan Hooker looking to steal Michael Chandler’s hype, enter title contention at UFC 257

Dan Hooker sees UFC 257 as a big opportunity to reposition himself at the top of the promotion’s lightweight division.

Hooker (20-9 MMA, 10-5 UFC) will welcome former three-time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler (21-5 MMA, 0-0 UFC) to the UFC on Jan. 23 and is aiming to steal all the shine of Chandler’s highly anticipated octagon debut.

With Chandler having served as the backup for the lightweight title fight between champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje at this past October’s UFC 254, Hooker understands that a win could put him in the running for a title shot – even if he thinks headliners Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier also have a case to compete for a potentially vacant title.

“I think Conor and Dustin should be for the belt,” Hooker told MMA Junkie Radio. “I feel like that should be a title fight, but regardless whoever wins that, their next fight, whether it’s against Khabib or whether that’s against the No. 1 contender, that’ll be fighting for the title. Michael Chandler popped up on my radar when they put him as the backup for the title fight, as the guy that was gonna get the shot if Khabib or Gaethje, if something happened to one of them.

“So I feel like with a win over him, I take that spot. I take all of that hype that’s behind him, and I put myself back in title contention.”

Chandler may be a new face in the UFC, but he has garnered plenty of experience fighting top-level talent in Bellator. With 12 of Chandler’s career wins coming in the first round, Hooker is expecting an action-packed opening five minutes, which he happily welcomes.

“He’s orthodox; he’s got a good right hand,” Hooker said of Chandler. “There’s a lot of similarities there between Al Iaquinta and Paul Felder, so there’s a lot of similarities there. I just feel like he’s a lot more explosive and is a lot faster at closing the distance, and he starts very fast.

“He starts incredibly quick. In that first round, he will really come out and try to test you and try to take your head off pretty much, so that’s exciting to me. It’s gonna be a fast start, and it might be all she wrote in Round 1, so that’s good news for me.”

UFC 257 takes place at Etihad Arena on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The night’s main card streams on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and ESPN+.

To hear the complete interview with Hooker, check out the video below.

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