UFC Fight Night 204: ‘Finished product’ Dan Hooker set for featherweight division return

The weight cut from the 155-pound lightweight division to the 145-pound featherweight has enhanced Dan Hooker’s focus and commitment ahead of his co-main event against Arnold Allen on Sunday at UFC Fight Night 204.

Dan Hooker

Dan Hooker, known as “The Hangman”, moved back to the featherweight division following a rough patch in the lightweight division which included losses against Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler and title-contender Islam Makhachev in his last four bouts.   -  Getty Images/Zuffa LLC

Dan Hooker, returning to the featherweight division after more than five years, believes he is now a ‘finished product’ ahead of his co-main event against Arnold Allen at UFC Fight Night 204 at the 02 Arena in London on Sunday.  

“A lot has changed since I initially left the featherweight division. The featherweight division is more my apprenticeship. I moved up to lightweight and got some on-site experience and now it is time to go back to featherweight as the finished product,” Hooker told Sportstar

The weight cut from the 155-pound lightweight division to featherweight has enhanced the New Zealander’s focus and commitment, leaving him feeling “better than ever”.

RELATED| Khabib Nurmagomedov to be inducted into UFC Hall of Fame

“At lightweight, I can get away with cheating a little bit; eating what I want. Featherweight requires another level of focus. It allowed me to laser-focus even more on the fight because I cannot forget about it even for a second. I was focused for the solo nine-week training camp. Every single meal, every single day, the fight never went from the forefront of my mind,” he said.

“The Hangman” moved back to the featherweight division following a rough patch in the lightweight division which included losses against Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler and title-contender Islam Makhachev in his last four bouts and he will now be up against hometown favourite Allen, who is hot on an eight-match win streak – one of the longest active streaks in the division.  

“He [Allen] is very well-rounded. He is not a specialist in any single department. He just mixes things together really well. I have to be prepared for everything. I have to be prepared for a match wrestling match, a grappling match, a striking match. Because I feel the fight will take place in all of these different departments,” Hooker, who has a mixed 3-3 record in the featherweight division, said.  

The 32-year-old has notched up finishes in more than 80 per cent of his wins in professional MMA compared to Arnold’s 53 per cent. More importantly, all three wins during his previous stint in the featherweight division have come via finishes (two knockouts, one submission). With a distinct height and reach advantage and a powerful striking game to complement it, Hooker will be a force to reckon with upon his return to his preferred weight category.

RELATED| Fight Night 201: Jim Miller ready for debutant Motta as UFC record looms

However, he is also prepared for a slow grind as it has almost been four years since Arnold scored a finish (submission by guillotine choke) against Mads Burnell. “He is a very disciplined fighter. He fights in a very controlled and smart (manner). He fights to get the win. I am prepared in case he gets wild – my fans understand I thrive in that kind of environment. But this fight is going to lean towards a bit more of a technical matchup,” he acknowledged.  

Although Hooker didn’t rule out another move up to lightweight at some point in his career, the Auckland native is determined to make his presence felt in the 145-pound division as he begins his quest for a title shot against seventh-ranked Arnold.  

“I am not considering it [lightweight division] at this point. I am focused on that [featherweight] division and getting things done in that division. Of course, I will be prepared to move back at some stage but for now, featherweight has my focus,” he signed off.  

Dan Hooker vs Arnold Allen in UFC Fight Night Volkov vs Aspinall will be aired LIVE on SONY TEN 2 (English), SONY TEN 3 (Hindi) & SONY TEN 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels on 20th March 2022 from 1:30 AM IST.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :