UFC Vegas 4: Poirier vs Hooker - Three key talking points

Dustin Poirier won a thrilling unanimous decision over Dan Hooker, surviving a brutal second round and persevering to finish a well-rounded performance.

Dustin Poirier celebrates his win against Dan Hooker during UFC Fight Night.   -  Chris Unger

Former UFC interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier bagged a close unanimous decision win over Dan Hooker in the main event of UFC Vegas 4 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday to take a step closer to yet another title fight in the division.

Both the contestants involved in the final bout of the event took home the Fight of the Night bonus, while the returning featherweight star Julian Erosa and the 20-year-old Kay Hansen of the women's strawweight division claimed the Performance of the Night bonuses for their stunning and unlikely submission wins.

Here are the key talking points from UFC on ESPN 12:

- Poirier and Hooker deliver an instant classic -

'Defence' wasn't the favourite word on a night which produced yet another 'Fight of the Year' candidate for UFC. Poirier and Hooker hurt each other so badly but still ended up going the distance during their five-round lightweight spectacle.

The first two rounds, especially the second, witnessed several jabs, hooks and knees. However, both the MMA artists decided to hold on, despite bleeding quite a bit. 

Poirier was on the receiving end of most of the inch-perfect punches early on. But the #3 contender put his resilience on display in the third round and dominated his opponent, whom he took to the ground in the fourth.

Poirier's stamina helped him complete a few takedowns and attempt some submission manoeuvres in the final two rounds, which made the judges give the decision in his favour.

READ | UFC: Dustin Poirier wins decision over Dan Hooker in thriller

“It was a tough one. Dan came to fight. He's a tough guy. He's on the rise. He thought he was going to get past me. I trusted in my team, in my skill and my work ethic,” said Poirier, after the victory against Hooker.

The winner of this contest was touted to face Conor McGregor, who had beaten Poirier in the past, next. However, the Irish superstar made a third retirement announcement in four years in June.

This leaves Poirier, 31, with either a title fight, which can be decided only after champion Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on interim titleholder Justin Gaethje in the unification bout or a fight with #2 ranked Tony Ferguson.

"I mean, I'd love to for the financial part of it (McGregor bout), but I'm not chasing grudge matches at this point in my life. I'd rather fight Tony Ferguson and get closer to the title, but we'll see what happens," he added.

- Perry beats Gall with only his girlfriend in his corner -

The fans and fellow UFC stars witnessed a different strategy employed by Mike Perry against Mickey Gall at UFC Vegas 4. The 28-year-old American had only his girlfriend Latory Gonzalez in his corner instead of a crew, who was motivating him and applying ice on his back and neck.

But that didn't stop welterweight star Perry from claiming his first win inside the Octagon in 14 months, arresting a two-match losing streak in the process. 

Despite splitting with his coach recently, Perry got the better of Gall with a unanimous decision triumph in a one-sided co-main event on the night. He was the better grappler in the bout and was spot on with the punches to the head of his opponent too.

READ | UFC on ESPN: Blaydes vs Volkov - Three takeaways from the Vegas event

"Mickey trained a lot. He came in with a respectable team who had a game plan with him. The kid came in and fought tough. Give Mickey credit since y'all going to take the credit away from me anyways," Perry told during the post-fight interview. 

He defended his decision of going with only Gonzalez in his corner and told he will set up a new team before his next fight. He also called out the United States Government which was taking so much of his income in taxes through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

"I’ve got to go pay some bills, pay some debts. I’ve got to go talk to the tax folk and see if we can run that number down because I believe I paid out over $100,000 last year between a couple of different countries. I’m asking the government to stop taking so much of this," he said, taking a hilarious jibe at the IRS. 

- Allen secures third straight UFC win, makes top-15 priority -

After another bloody battle at the UFC Apex, Brendan Allen registered his third consecutive win in MMA's top promotion. This time, he got the better of debutant Kyle Daukaus, who put up a worthy fight himself.

Allen dominated the exchanges in the first round, delivering a knee to Daukaus' chin. He then elbowed his rival to cut him open near the eye. 

Through the remainder of the encounter, both the contestants traded several body-blows, takedowns, submission attempts and opportunities to finish each other before the final buzzer. However, they lasted the full three rounds.

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“It wasn’t my best performance. He (Daukaus) was tough. I’m not too happy with myself, but I’ll be back better. I want Ian Heinisch next, for sure. He can’t run from me forever,” claimed Allen after going 3-0 in the UFC middleweight division.

Heinisch, #13 contender in the division, had pulled out of UFC on ESPN 12 just weeks before the event. Newcomer Daukaus was a last-minute replacement.

This late change had upset Allen, who was looking to move up the ladder and enter the top-15 among middleweights. He is still looking in that direction and wants to face Heinisch in three months. 

"My goal this year is to crack the top 15. Now it has to be later in the year – just as long as everything goes well. I just don’t understand how you can say you’re injured and then post you’re going to Phuket to train, but that’s OK,” he had said ahead of UFC Vegas 4.