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.