Dan Hooker interested in Tony Ferguson for his UFC return

At UFC 257, Dan Hooker (20-10) was in the co-main event of the Conor McGregor – Dustin Poirier card. Hooker was coming off of a loss to Dustin Poirier and was being tasked with welcoming Michael Chandler to the UFC.

When the betting lines closes, Hooker was the favorite. Prior to UFC 257, Hooker had only been defeated twice in nine fights at 155 pounds. When the fight started, Chandler pressed forward with a ton of pressure and Hooker just circled.

It seemed like Hooker was trying to gauge the range and timing of Michael Chandler. A couple of minutes in, Hooker landed his first big calf kick which I thought would be key for him. However, it was the last successful moment that he had.

Chandler pressed forward and threw a right straight to the body then came up with a vicious left hook. The shot sat Hooker down and Chandler followed up with shots that gave him the TKO victory at UFC 257.

Hooker was extremely disappointed and threw his gloves after the fight. However, he’s made it clear that he was just frustrated and he was never seriously contemplating retiring from the UFC once he calmed down after the loss.

UFC return?

Dan Hooker trains in New Zealand alongside UFC champions Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski. A lot of the time, these guys try to align themselves on cards together due to the quarantine rules in New Zealand.

With that, Hooker tried to get on the card at UFC 263 this weekend with Israel Adesanya headlining. However, the promotion couldn’t get him an opponent in time. With that, Hooker told Submission Radio last week that he’s targeting the proposed Volkanovski card in September.

When asked about potential opponents for his UFC return, one opponent Hooker really likes is Tony Ferguson (25-6). The former interim lightweight champion has lost three fights in a row, but like Hooker, has no plans on going anywhere.

Both lightweight contenders are 0-5 in their last five, but those five losses were against five of the top six lightweights in the UFC. For that reason, both men are still ranked inside the top ten. Both need a win and a fight between the two could make sense. I could definitely see the UFC entertaining that fight as an option.

Dan Hooker likes RDA for his UFC return

Earlier this year at UFC 257, Dan Hooker (20-10) had a massive opportunity on the sport’s biggest stage. In the co-main event on a card headlined by the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, Hooker was tasked with welcoming Michael Chandler to the UFC.

Hooker entered the contest as a betting favorite. Entering UFC 257, the only two men to have defeated Hooker at lightweight were Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier. The fight with Poirier was an absolute war and Hooker won the first two rounds of that fight.

If Hooker was able to get the win over Chandler, it would have put him right in the title conversation. However, UFC 257 ended with the worst case scenario for Dan Hooker. Chandler landed a massive left in the first round and finished The Hangman.

Since then, Hooker has been laying low just getting back into training. Now that it’s been a few months, Hooker is getting that itch to fight. While he hasn’t been offered a fight by the UFC yet, Hooker told Submission Radio that he has an opponent in mind.

Former UFC champ

“When it comes to fights that make sense, I like the RDA fight. Former champ. I respect his skillset and I respect the way he carries himself. I think that’s a fight that makes sense,” Hooker told Submission Radio.

In reality, this is a perfect matchup for the UFC. Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) made his lightweight return last November. The former UFC lightweight champion returned to the division after spending the last few years at welterweight.

RDA won a decision over Paul Felder (17-6) in his return. Currently, Dos Anjos is ranked seventh and Hooker is ranked eighth in the lightweight division. Given their styles and their spot in the rankings, this would be a fantastic matchup for the UFC.

Another potential matchup would be a rematch with Paul Felder. Hooker and Felder had a war in early 2020 that ended with a split decision win for Hooker. I don’t think any fan would be opposed to the two of them running it back.

What’s next for Beneil Dariush after UFC Vegas 18?

This past weekend at UFC Vegas 18, Beneil Dariush (20-4-1) took on Diego Ferreira (17-3) for the second time. The two had previously met back in 2014 and Dariush handed Ferreira his first career loss at UFC 179.

Both men were carrying in five-plus fight winning streaks into Saturday night. Ferreira has improved so much from their first matchup, but there were a lot of questions around his inactivity and if he could deal with Dariush’s style.

The fight on Saturday was very similar to their matchup at UFC 179. Dariush was able to land several takedowns and control the majority of the fight on the ground. However, there were some spots where Ferreira did have some success.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, Dariush walked away with the split decision. Although, I don’t think anyone outside of those judges believes that this fight at UFC Vegas 18 was all that close. Dariush picked up his sixth straight victory on Saturday night.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 18?

After the fight was over, Dariush made it clear that he wants someone in the UFC’s top five. Originally, Dariush was supposed to fight Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) in October. However, Oliveira had to pull out of that matchup.

Dariush expressed his frustrations with Oliveira last week. While he’s likely not going to face Oliveira next, there are some top contenders out there for Beneil Dariush. Dariush is now ranked ninth in the lightweight division. 

A couple of options for Dariush are the two guys right in front of him. Dan Hooker (20-10) and Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) both need opponents. In an ideal world, Dariush would get to face the former UFC lightweight champion, Dos Anjos, next.

However, Dan Hooker might be the more logical opponent. Hooker is coming off of back-to-back losses, but he’s got the name recognition that Dariush needs. Dariush needs a win in the UFC over someone with pop in their name. Pickup a win over Hooker and he’ll get a bump.

Another potential name could be Tony Ferguson (25-5), however, I don’t see that one happening either. No matter what, Dariush needs an opponent ranked above him next. He deserves that opportunity.

UFC: Justin Gaethje down to fight ‘Cringey’ Michael Chandler

Ever since UFC 258 concluded, the lightweight division has been in the news non-stop. We have fighters calling each other out and some fighters saying others are not worthy of certain fights. Several potential matchups materializing in front of our eyes.

At UFC 258, Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) knocked out Conor McGregor (22-5) and proved to the world that he’s the best lightweight not named Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0). Khabib is the current lightweight champion, although he’s maintained that he’s been retired since UFC 254.

Before Poirier knocked out McGregor, Michael Chandler (22-5) made his debut with the UFC in the co-main event. Chandler knocked out Dan Hooker (20-10) with a massive left hook and a few follow up shots.

While all of this is unfolding, the former interim UFC lightweight champion, Justin Gaethje (22-3), has been sitting back waiting for his next move. Gaethje said the UFC attempted to call him before the PPV, but he wanted to see how things shook out.

Back in October, Gaethje failed in his attempt to become UFC lightweight champion. He as choked out by Khabib, but despite the loss, he remains the second ranked contender in the lightweight division.

Gaethje has not been calling for a title shot, instead, he’s been calling for any fight. He believes that he needs to get a win before he gets his next UFC title shot. There are several names Gaethje is thinking about next.

UFC’s options for Justin Gaethje

Before UFC 258, Dana White had said that the promotion was going to work on Gaethje – Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC). However, that fight has not materialized and Oliveira has turned down fights since then due to his desire to fight for the title. 

Last week, Gaethje said that he would ‘SmokeNate Diaz (20-12) if the UFC would give him that opportunity. Of course, he’s also talked about his desire to fight Conor McGregor. However, Gaethje has maintained that McGregor doesn’t want to fight him.

There does seem to be one perfect match for Gaethje and that is Michael Chandler. Gaethje said he respects Chandler but finds him cringey and Chandler told ESPN this week that he believes that him and Gaethje are on a collision course. A fight between the two men could materialize quickly.

Yesterday, Gaethje’s manager told ESPN that Gaethje is very much open to fighting Michael Chandler. It seems like the perfect fight to make for the UFC is pairing up Chandler and Justin Gaethje. Both men want the fight and it would create some much needed clarity at 155.

UFC attempted to make Chandler – Oliveira; Oliveira turned it down

The UFC lightweight division is in a very unique spot at the moment. It’s the most exciting division in the promotion, however, there is a lot of cloudiness surrounding the top of the division. Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) has said he’s retired, yet he’s still the UFC champion.

Back at UFC 257, Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) knocked out Conor McGregor (22-5) in the main event. In retrospect, that fight should have been for the vacant lightweight title with the assumption that Khabib is staying retired.

In the co-main event of the evening, Michael Chandler (22-5) knocked out Dan Hooker (20-10) in the first round. The win was a huge statement in the UFC debut of Michael Chandler. Chandler had spent virtually his entire career with Bellator to that point.

After the fights, Dana White said that the UFC was going to have to figure out what to do with the division. Obviously, Dustin Poirier would be fighting for the title next, but the promotion didn’t know who that would be against.

Poirier only seemed interested in McGregor, Nate Diaz (20-12), or Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC). Meanwhile, Dana White seemed more interested in having Chandler fight Poirier for the lightweight title. This is an idea that Poirier was not a fan of because he felt Chandler hadn’t earned a shot in the UFC.

UFC attempted to book Chandler – Oliveira

Last week we learned that the co-main event of UFC 258 between Chris Weidman and Uriah Hall fell through. Also around the same time, Michael Chandler posted on his Instagram that he was Dana White’s new “Yes Man” which left people wondering what was going on.

Well, according to a report from AG Fight, Chandler was offered the co-main event slot at UFC 258. His opponent would have been none other than Charles Oliveira. This goes along with what Chandler told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani this week.

This is a matchup that would’ve provided a great deal of clarity in the lightweight division. However, Oliveira turned down the fight according to the report citing his desire to fight for the title next.

Granted, there might have been other reasons behind the decision, but nevertheless, Oliveira turned down the fight with Michael Chandler. If he couldn’t get ready in time, I completely understand. However, if this was a move out of principle, I really don’t agree with the move.

Charles Oliveira’s eight-fight win streak is incredible. It’s enough to warrant a title shot, however, as I put in my article yesterday, the UFC is not going to give him the next shot. At least, I would be extremely surprised if they do.

That said, this could have been a golden chance for Oliveira to force their hand. Had Oliveira fought and defeated the new company man, the UFC would have nothing left other than offering him a title shot. Time will tell if this was a smart decision or not, but as of now, I really don’t agree with it.

Dan Hooker wants to be in sync with his team before his next UFC fight

It’s been a little over a week since the lightweight showcase at UFC 257. Of course there was all the attention in the world on the main event, but the co-main event was so intriguing to fight fans and incredibly important for the lightweight division.

Michael Chandler (22-5) was making his UFC debut and he wasn’t getting a layup. The promotion gave Chandler, Dan Hooker (20-10) for his first fight. Don’t let the record fool you, Hooker is one of the best lightweights in the world.

Hooker struggled early on in his UFC career because he was killing himself to make featherweight. However, when he made the jump to lightweight, he’s shown he’s one of the very best in the world.

Prior to UFC 257, Hooker was 7-2 at lightweight and held wins over Gilbert Burns, Al Iaquinta, and Paul Felder. Hooker was coming off of a loss to Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC), but the fight was razor close. Had Hooker won that fight, he might’ve been the one fighting Conor McGregor (22-5).

Nevertheless, Hooker was tasked with welcoming Michael Chandler and it didn’t go as planned for Hooker. Hooker really never got a chance to get going as he was caught with a massive left hook that put him down in the first.

It was the first time Hooker had lost by TKO when the shots were to the head. A frustrated Hooker threw down his UFC gloves after the fight and many wondered if he was done. However, he recently told Submission Radio that he’s not done fighting and laid out his future timeline.

UFC return for Dan Hooker

On throwing his gloves, Hooker said, “Yeah, you’re always frustrated after a loss. In that moment, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m done, I’m finished with this sh*tty sport!’ Then you get back to the hotel and realize you’re not good at anything else.”

Hooker had a great attitude and was laughing about what happened at UFC 257. The top lightweight contender seemed to be taking it in stride knowing that losses are just a part of the game.

When asked about his UFC return, Hooker said that he’d like to get synced back up with his team. Normally, his team at City Kickboxing is all training together for a fight. However, everyone has had different schedules and because of that, Hooker didn’t even have his head coach at UFC 257.

“I get pretty jealous watching all the boys on the same card or roughly fighting around the same time. (After) They bang out these fights in March then they’ll look to get back in there two or three months later, it’ll be cool to get back in sync with them,” Hooker said.

With that, it appears that Hooker is targeting a late spring or early summer UFC return. I’m so glad to see Dan Hooker being so positive after UFC 257. He’s still one of the best in the world and I’m looking forward to seeing who the promotion matches him up with next.

Michael Chandler is becoming the UFC’s new ‘Yes Man’

Last Saturday at UFC 257, Michael Chandler (22-5) finally made his debut with the world’s premium MMA organization. Chandler spent the majority of his career at Bellator where he became a three-time lightweight champion.

He was always considered one of the best in the world, but with him not fighting in the UFC, many didn’t give him credit. At UFC 257, he made his debut against Dan Hooker (20-10). Stylistically, this was a very tough matchup for Chandler.

Hooker is a sensational striker, incredibly tough, and he’s tough to take down and keep down. Not too mention the fact that he’s very tall for the weight class and uses his kicks and knees extremely well to keep distance.

There were questions around if Chandler could get in range to hit Hooker or even take him down. Well, at UFC 257, Chandler answered all of the doubts emphatically. Chandler put Hooker out and he did it with his striking in the first round.

Michael Chandler is an elite wrestler, but he’s scored three straight first round knockouts on the feet. He’s got ungodly amounts of power in his hands to go along with his elite wrestling skills. He proved he’s going to be a problem in the UFC‘s lightweight division.

The UFC’s New Company Man

Michael Chandler has made it clear from the jump that he’s there to be a company man. That’s why he was willing to be the UFC 254 backup for the promotion. Chandler traveled to Fight Island, quarantined, and made weight despite not fighting.

He was also willing to take any opponent in the UFC’s top six for his first fight regardless of the style. For that reason, he’s already becoming a favorite of Dana White. Dana White said he knew within seconds of talking to Chandler that he wanted to sign him when he was a free agent.

A couple of days ago, Chandler posted on his Instagram Story that he received a call from Dana White. Chandler said in the post that he’s happy to be the UFC’s new yes man. We can likely draw the conclusion that the promotion asked him about a potential fight.

With how quick the debut was, Chandler will likely get turned around quickly. No telling who Dana White was offering Chandler on the phone, but we know when the UFC calls, Chandler is going to say yes. For that reason, he’s going to become a quick favorite of the promotion and the fans.

UFC: Justin Gaethje says he would ‘smoke’ Nate Diaz

Justin Gaethje (22-3) had his eyes on the TV Saturday night watching UFC 257. The PPV was a huge night for the lightweight division and in the main event we saw the rematch between Conor McGregor (22-5) and Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC).

In the co-main event of UFC 257, we saw Michael Chandler (22-5) make his debut against Dan Hooker (20-10). With incredible performances, Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler both scored knockout victories on Saturday night.

Watching the action got Justin Gaethje excited for his return. The former interim UFC lightweight champion has been waiting for last Saturday before thinking about what he wants to do next.

Gaethje sat down with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto this week and talked about everything that’s been going on with him. He said that the UFC had approached him last week about his next fight, but he wanted to see how UFC 257 shook out.

Now that he’s seen the action, Gaethje is ready to go. Gaethje said that he would fight anyone who is a top contender in the division and he knows it will take a win to get another title shot.

The Highlight made it clear that he wants a top three guy in his next fight, but he will make an exception. That would be for the one and only Nate Diaz (20-12). On a potential UFC bout with Diaz, Gaethje said he would happily accept it.

Will the UFC book Diaz – Gaethje?

“If they call me to fight Nate Diaz, I’m fighting Nate Diaz. I will roll him up and smoke him like a blunt. I can out smoke Nate Diaz any day of the week. It’s not something I’m proud of, but he thinks he’s Mr. 420. I’d roll him up and smoke him,” Gaethje told Okamoto.

I’m not going to lie, I think all UFC fans would be pumped for a potential matchup between Gaethje and Nate Diaz. When the UFC was talking about Diaz’s lightweight return, I figured Gaethje was a name that they were discussing.

However, Gaethje said that there’s been no talks on that fight yet. The UFC’s lightweight division is so exciting right now and Justin Gaethje – Nate Diaz might be one of the most fun matchups that could be made. It’ll be interesting to watch this one play out.

State of the lightweight division after UFC 257

This past weekend at UFC 257, Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) and Conor McGregor (22-5) had their highly anticipated rematch. The lightweight champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0), was watching and trying to decide if he wanted to come back to fighting.

Dustin Poirier had the performance of a lifetime. After losing the first round on all three scorecards, Poirier came back to TKO McGregor in the second round at UFC 257 and proved that he’s the best lightweight in the world not named Khabib Nurmagomedov.

After the event was over, many were wondering what Khabib would do. Khabib had retired after UFC 254 when he dominated Justin Gaethje (22-3) to retain his lightweight title. However, Dana White said that if someone enticed him to come back, he would.

At the UFC 257 post-fight press conference, Dana White said that it didn’t look good for Khabib coming back. At the end of the day, Nurmagomedov dominated the three best lightweights in the UFC in his last three fights. Not only that, but he finished all three of them.

State of the UFC’s lightweight division

For the sake of this, let’s take Khabib out of the question. The number one lightweight in the UFC is Dustin Poirier. He’s proved that over the last few years and now he’s stopped both Conor McGregor and Justin Gaethje.

Right behind Poirier you have McGregor and Gaethje. Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) is currently on an eight-fight win streak and Poirier said after the fight that he’s probably the most deserving guy in the division of a UFC title shot.

Also at UFC 257, Michael Chandler (22-5) made his debut against Dan Hooker (20-10). Chandler knocked Hooker out in the first round to secure his third straight first round knockout on Saturday night. He’s expected to be in the top five when the rankings come out.

The wildcard in the lightweight division is Nate Diaz (20-12). Diaz is one of the biggest stars in the sport and he’s returning to the lightweight division. After UFC 257, Diaz called for a fight against Dustin Poirier. 

Needless to say, the lightweight division is stacked. Poirier is going to be fighting for the title in his next fight. There are questions around who that will be. Poirier said that he’s only interested in three opponents: McGregor, Diaz, and Oliveira.

However, Dana White said that he believed that Chandler should get the shot at Poirier. If I had to take a guess, I think the UFC is going to put Poirier against Diaz or McGregor for the title. Those are the two biggest fights to make and that’s what The Diamond wants. Fun times ahead at lightweight.

After devastating loss at UFC 257, what’s next for Dan Hooker?

In the co-main event of UFC 257, Dan Hooker (20-10) got the opportunity to welcome Michael Chandler (22-5) to the promotion. Hooker had been stating in interviews that he wanted to break the UFC’s new toy.

However, that didn’t happen on Saturday night. Hooker never got the chance to really get into the fight. As soon as the fight started, Chandler pushed forward with a lot of pressure. Hooker circled on the outside, but he seemed a little tentative.

It appeared that he was just trying to gauge the timing and closing speed of the UFC newcomer. Hooker threw a couple of nice leg kicks one of which seemed to really get Michael Chandler’s attention.

However, right after that kick landed, the fight would come to a close. Chandler pushed forward with a straight right to the body and followed with a massive left hook that sent Hooker crashing to the canvas. Several follow up shots forced Marc Goddard to call a stop to the action.

What’s next after UFC 257?

This is a crushing loss for Dan Hooker and he showed it after the fight. Hooker threw his gloves down in the octagon and walked out of the cage extremely dejected. There hasn’t been a word from the Hooker camp since the fight.

Normally when a fighter lays his gloves in the octagon, it signals that the fighter is done. However, let’s just go with the assumption that he was upset and he still plans on competing in the UFC‘s lightweight division.

That said, what should come next for Hooker? Realistically, I think there are a couple of options out there. One fun option would be a fight with Tony Ferguson (25-5). Both men are currently on two-fight losing streaks to some of the best guys in the world.

It would be a do or die fight for both men which could make it a lot of fun. That said, if we want to look a little further down the division, a fight with someone like Kevin Lee (18-6) could make sense for Dan Hooker.

Lee is coming off of an injury, but he’s just 1-3 in his last four fights. This could be a good fight for either man to get back on track. I really hope we haven’t seen the last of The Hangman after Saturday night.