UFC 266 Preview: Dan Hooker – Nasrat Haqparast

Tomorrow night on the prelims at UFC 266 we are going to see a banger of a matchup in the lightweight division. Entertaining lightweight contenders Dan Hooker (20-10) and Nasrat Haqparast (13-3) will battle it out in one of the featured prelims at UFC 266.

This is a fight that almost didn’t happen this week as both men had visa issues getting into the US. Hooker struggled to get in from New Zealand given the extremely limitations due to covid restrictions. Haqparast struggled to get back into the US after visiting Germany for his mother’s funeral.

That said, both men were able to make it and their fight will go on at UFC 266. This is a huge fight for Haqparast who will be looking for his third straight win. After losing his UFC debut back in 2017, Haqparast has gone 5-1 in his last six fights.

A win tomorrow night would be massive for his career. However, it won’t be easy as he’s taking on one of the best in Dan Hooker. Hooker is looking to get back on track after back-to-back losses.

That said, those losses came against two of the best in the UFC in Michael Chandler and Dustin Poirier. Hooker is without question one of the better lightweights in the promotion and tomorrow is about getting back on the winning path.

UFC 266 Prediction

I think this fight is going to be sensational tomorrow night. I think you’re going to see two guys go out there and throw down on the feet. I was incredibly impressed with the boxing that I’ve seen from Haqparast in his recent fights.

His hand speed and accuracy would play well tomorrow at UFC 266. That said, Dan Hooker is a sniper on the outside and he has a much wider range of weapons in terms of his striking arsenal.

I’m really looking for him to use kicks tomorrow and potentially knees as Haqparast tries to close the distance. I think that Haqparast will make it interesting, but a big shot in round two will get The Hangman the win at UFC 266.

Prediction: Dan Hooker by TKO – Round 2

UFC books Dan Hooker – Nasrat Haqparast

The UFC has finalized a fun lightweight matchup for their PPV card next month. After a report from BJPenn.com, it’s been confirmed that the promotion is planning on having a lightweight contest between Dan Hooker (20-10) and rising contender Nasrat Haqparast (13-3).

The fight will take place at UFC 266 on September 25th. It’s no surprise that Hooker finds himself fighting on that card. With COVID restrictions and quarantine rules in New Zealand, the City Kickboxing fighters like to fight either on the same card or right around each other.

Hooker has said for months that he wanted to fight on the same card as teammate Alexander Volkanovski. The UFC featherweight champion is headlining next month’s PPV when he takes on Brian Ortega.

The surprising part of this announcement is the opponent. Nasrat Haqparast is not the opponent I was expecting for Hooker. Haqparast has won two in a row and overall, he’s 5-2 inside the octagon.

Entering UFC 266, Haqparast will not have a ranking by his name. This is a massive opportunity for the lightweight from Afghanistan. Considering all that’s going on in that part of the world, this is a huge moment for him and his native land.

Hooker’s Return at UFC 266

How quickly things have changed for The Hangman in the UFC. A little over a year ago, Hooker was fighting Dustin Poirier in a headliner inside the APEX in Las Vegas. In the first two rounds, Hooker was beating Poirier to the punch.

In fact, Hooker was outclassing The Diamond for the first couple of rounds. However, Poirier flipped the switch and won the final three rounds to win the decision. Had Hooker won that fight, he might’ve been in line for a UFC title shot.

From there, Hooker welcomed Michael Chandler to the UFC back in January. Hooker was the betting favorite, but Chandler scored a first round knockout that shocked everyone. Now, Hooker has fallen back in the rankings and he’s fighting an unranked opponent.

This is a good reset moment for Hooker. Haqparast is an opponent he should beat and it’s a good opportunity for him to get his momentum back. However, it won’t be easy and you can bet that Haqparast will be more motivated than ever at UFC 266.

After another dominant win at UFC Vegas 31, what’s next for Islam Makhachev?

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 31, all eyes were on Dagestan’s Islam Makhachev (20-1). Makhachev was going for his eighth consecutive win in the lightweight division, and it wasn’t going to be easy. He was taking on top fifteen ranked Thiago Moises (15-5).

Like Makhachev, Moises is looked at as one of the bright prospects in the lightweight division. Three years younger than Makhachev, Moises was looking to shock the world by derailing the Dagestani Hype Train.

However, at UFC Vegas 31, Islam Makhachev showed the world why he was so special. Thiago Moises had some bright spots here and there, but for the most part, Saturday night was all Islam Makhachev.

Even when Moises would do something well, Makhachev would immediately counter with something better. In the middle rounds, it was Moises that actually engaged in the grappling. Moises actually landed a takedown, but was immediately reversed by Makhachev.

For the most part, it was a mauling from Makhachev at UFC Vegas 31. In the fourth round, Makhachev got in deep on a takedown and put Moises on his back. Makhachev transitioned to the back and locked in a rear naked choke for the submission win.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 31?

With this win, it’s clear that Makhachev needs a step up in competition in the lightweight division. There should never be a scenario where he’s fighting guys outside of the top ten moving forward and I think the UFC realizes that.

Dan Hooker called out Makhachev for a fight in September today and that is a fight that I really like. However, I think there’s a better matchup at lightweight for Makhachev. I believe he should fight former UFC champion Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) next.

RDA was just the backup at UFC 264 and he’s ready to go. Makhachev needs a step up and it would be perfect for him to fight a former champion. The fight would say a lot about both men. It would tell us whether or not RDA is still a title contender and it would tell us whether Islam Makhachev is ready for a title shot.

I believe we are looking at a situation where the UFC will likely have Makhachev get at least two more wins before a title shot. If he gets a win over RDA, expect the promotion to push him straight into a title eliminator with one of the top guys.

UFC: Dan Hooker calls for September fight with Islam Makhachev

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 31, Islam Makhachev (20-1) picked up his eighth consecutive win. Makhachev completely mauled Thiago Moises and submitted him in the fourth round of their fight.

Islam Makhachev is the protégé of Khabib Nurmagomedov and he looks like he’s picking up right where the former UFC champion left off. Makhachev is turning into the boogeyman of the division and he’s had a tough time getting people to accept a fight against him.

One of the men that Makhachev has called out is Dan Hooker (20-10). Hooker is ranked just above Makhachev in the lightweight division and he’s been in there with some of the very best that the UFC has to offer.

Makhachev said that Hooker has been dodging a fight with him and that he declined the fight. Most recently, Makhachev took to Twitter to say he’s not interested in fighting Hooker now that he’s 3-3 in his last six.

Granted, his last two losses came against Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler. Hooker clapped back today and said if Makhachev wants a fight, they can make it happen with the UFC in September.

UFC 266 lightweight contest?

With COVID still a reality for the world, it makes fighting hard for New Zealand based fighters. Fighters like Hooker, Israel Adesanya, Alexander Volkanovski, and others have to abide by strict quarantine rules.

Because of that, City Kickboxing likes for the UFC to book their fighters all around the same time. UFC 266 at the end of September is being headlined by Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega.

With Volkanovski headlining, Hooker has been trying to get on the UFC 266 card. For now, the main card appears to be full. However, the UFC could always add another lightweight showcase between Hooker and Makhachev.

If not at UFC 266, I certainly wouldn’t rule out a Fight Night headliner between the two men. Makhachev might’ve sounded uninterested, but I would definitely take this fight if I was Makhachev. A win over Hooker would be massive for his progression.

A win over the surging Makhachev would put Hooker right back in the mix at the top at 155. Time will tell, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see these two paired against each other.

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.