Morning Report: Dan Hooker on Michael Chandler: ‘I’m gonna break the new toy real quick’


Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Over the weekend, the UFC finally announced an opponent for Michael Chandler’s debut in the organization, and it was a name that most weren’t expecting, Dan Hooker. In the months since signing with the UFC Chandler’s name had been linked to bouts with Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson, Dustin Poirier, and Charles Oliveira but Hooker’s name had largely been out of the mix. Even Chandler, after the fight was announced, was honest about Hooker not being his first choice for opponent, and Hooker knows it too. In fact, speaking with SCMP MMA, “The Hangman” revealed that he was first approached about the fight some time ago and knew that he wasn’t the UFC’s first choice.

“I think they were trying to get other people to take the fight is what the hold up was (laughs),” Hooker said. “I heard real early on that they were trying to get Gaethje to take it. And then when Dana announced the fight Dana announced it like, ‘We were trying to get Oliveira to take the fight but he didn’t take it so now Hooker’s taking it.’ And then people asking me, ‘Oh, so it’s short notice?’ Nah bruv, I’ve been in camp for a while. (Laughs). I’m coming in ready for this. I got approached about this fight a while back.”

Upon signing with the UFC in September, the former three-time Bellator lightweight champion was immediately considered a title contender, even being set as the backup fighter for the lightweight title bout at UFC 254 between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje. Chandler’s services were not needed that night but the message was clear regardless: ‘Chandler is in the title hunt at lightweight.’ For Hooker, that kind of immediate push by the company makes this a very enticing fight for him.

“I think they just wanted to get him to a title shot as quickly as possible,” Hooker said. “Anyone that’s been following the sport for a good amount of time knows that the danger lies in time. Father time in this sport is not your friend. You know what I mean? They want him to come in and look like the man, you know? So if he comes in, he whitewashes a top-five, top-four, top-three opponent, then people will start going, ‘Title shot, title shot, title shot.’ Because like 95 percent of people that watch it are lazy. They’ll only watch the highlight reel in the buildup to the fight so they’ll be like, ‘Whoa, he’s a former champ in another organization? He came in and beat a top-five. Now he’s fighting for a title!’ They’re not gonna actually go back and watch his fights. There’s like five percent of people that really study the sport and really watch the sport and really research the sport.

“The danger lies in getting to the top five. If you were to put him against anyone else who’s come up in the UFC, like top-50, then a top-30, then a top-20, then a top-15 then his chances of losing skyrocket exponentially. So the quicker they can get him to a title, the quicker they could market and sell him. So to me, you’re gonna give me the new toy? I’m gonna break the new toy real quick. They invested a whole lot of money to get this guy out of his contract and get him over to the UFC and they’re gonna throw him in with me who’s like a bad stylistic matchup and I’m gonna break the toy in five minutes. I can’t say I feel sorry for them (laughs).”

Hooker is currently the sixth-ranked lightweight contender and coming off a loss to Poirier in a Fight of the Year contender. Given the depth of talent at lightweight, that still puts him out of the title conversation at the moment, however, that’s the other major benefit to facing Chandler: Hooker believes a win over “Iron” Mike gets him back in the picture.

“They showed that by putting him as the backup for the title, how much stock the UFC puts in him,” Hooker said. “They made sure that he’s on the (Conor) McGregor undercard. So these are two of the biggest fights for the lightweight division and they’re putting him as close as they can. That shows what it is. That shows that he’s in the mix and if I go out there and demolish him, then I’m back in the mix.”

Hooker and Chandler will serve as the co-main event for UFC 257, which is headlined by a lightweight rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. UFC 257 takes place Jan. 23 on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.


TOP STORIES

Plans. Dana White: Justin Gaethje vs. Charles Oliveira ‘probably’ next.

Goals. Michael Chandler wants to ‘put a stamp’ on UFC debut by finishing Dan Hooker, possibly ‘entice’ Khabib Nurmagomedov to return.

Points. Deiveson Figueiredo’s manager says UFC granted his wish to get PPV points.

Surprise. Dana White promises ‘surprise’ for all those planning to pirate UFC 257.


VIDEO STEW

The A-Side Live Chat.

UFC Fight of the Night rankings from 2020.

Fastest Bellator KOs.

Fighters telling street fight stories.

This is probably exactly how it’ll happen.


SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE

Henry staying on brand.

Fighting words.

Volunteer.

Deserved.

Focused.

Spectacular.


FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Mounir Lazzez (10-1) vs. Warlley Alves (13-4); UFC Fight Island 8, Jan. 20.

Andrei Arlovski (30-19) vs. Tom Aspinall (9-2); UFC Fight Night, Feb. 20.

Mike Trizano (8-1) vs. Rafael Alves (19-9); UFC Fight Night, Feb. 20.

Julia Avila (8-2) vs. Julija Stoliarenko (9-4-1); UFC Fight Night, Mar. 20.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


EXIT POLL


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