UFC on ESPN 12 Preview: Dustin Poirier & Dan Hooker battle for a potential lightweight title shot

Dustin Poirier, UFC

UFC on ESPN 12 is the last event that we will see on US soil until August. The UFC is leaving the US on a high night with a main event that features two lightweight contenders battling it out for a potential title shot. Former interim lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier (25-6, 1 NC), will be taking on Dan Hooker (20-8). The card is really solid this weekend, and fight fans should be getting excited. With that, let’s dive into the main card and breakdown this Saturday’s action.

Dustin Poirier vs Dan Hooker

In the main event of the evening, you have one of the more anticipated matchups of the summer. Dustin Poirier is returning for the first time since he lost to the champion, Khabib Nurmagomedov, back at UFC 242. Prior to the loss, nobody in the UFC was hotter than Poirier. Taking out the no contest against Eddie Alvarez, Poirier had won five fights in a row including wins over Max Holloway, Alvarez, and Justin Gaethje. Poirier proved that he was definitely one of the best fighters in the world. Poirier has all the makings of a champion, but he ran into a Russian Bear last September. Poirier is looking to get back into the win column Saturday night, but he’s got another tall order on his hands.

Dan Hooker has completely turned his career around since moving to lightweight. After a 3-3 start to his UFC career, Hooker is 7-1 since moving to 155 pounds. Hooker has wins over guys like Paul Felder, Al Iaquinta, and Gilbert Burns. Hooker is looking to use this fight to springboard himself into lightweight contention. If he’s able to defeat Dustin Poirier, there is no denying Hooker any longer.

When it comes to the fight, I see this fight taking place on the feet. Both guys are going to look to trade. Early on, I really like Hooker to establish his jab and range. I think you’re going to see Hooker have some early success in this fight. However, one thing that concerns me is Hooker’s ability to get hit. Dustin Poirier is a better and faster striker than Paul Felder. Poirier also has more power in his hands than Felder. Felder was able to land some bombs on Hooker in their razor close fight. While I think Hooker will have his moments, I think Poirier is going to be too much for him. I think in the middle rounds, Poirier is going to land something big, and I think Poirier is going to get the finish in this one.

Prediction: Dustin Poirier by TKO – Round 4

Mike Perry vs Mickey Gall

The co-main event of the evening features a welterweight contest between “Platinum” Mike Perry (13-6) and Mickey Gall (6-2). There are not a lot of tougher guys in the UFC than Mike Perry. He’s truly a unique guy with a pretty good all around skillset. Perry has good wrestling, and he has really good power on his feet. Yes he’s lost three of his last four, but they are to some top notch guys like Cowboy Cerrone and Geoff Neal. Perry is making headlines in this fight because the only corner member he will have on Saturday night will be his girlfriend. He is out to prove that he doesn’t need any coaches to fight and look good doing it.

Mickey Gall is a very interesting story. He became famous after calling out and defeating CM Punk in the UFC. After beating CM Punk, Gall was able to defeat Sage Northcutt. It seemed like Gall was on the rise. However, Gall has since gone 2-2, and even in the wins, he hasn’t looked impressive. His lst fight against Salim Touahri was troubling. Gall didn’t look fluid on his feet, and his cardio was not there. In the fight before, Gall was completed dominated by an old Diego Sanchez. This is a really tough matchup for Mickey Gall, and I’m having a hard time seeing how he wins this fight. Even with no one besides his girlfriend in his corner, I think Perry runs away with this one.

Prediction: Mike Perry by TKO – Round 2

Brendan Allen vs Kyle Daukaus

The next fight of the main card is a middleweight contest between Brendan Allen (14-3) and UFC newcomer, Kyle Daukaus (9-0). Allen comes into this fight as one of the more talked about prospects in the UFC’s middleweight division. He’s come right out of the gate with two strong wins in the UFC with neither going to the scorecards. Allen has good striking, good wrestling, and very good decisions. He’s very strong for this weight class, and there are not a ton of weaknesses in his game. It’s a very tough draw for Daukaus who is going to be making his UFC debut.

Originally, Ian Heinisch was supposed to be fighting Brendan Allen in a battle of top fifteen middleweights. However, injury pulled Heinisch off the cards which gave Daukaus the golden opportunity. Daukaus has fought on the Contender Series, but this fight will be his UFC debut. His Contender fight is still the only fight that has gone the distance in his professional career. Daukaus has nine submissions wins, and he’s extremely slick on the ground. If the fight ends up on the ground, he’s got a great chance at pulling the upset. The problem for Daukaus is he’s not as good of a striker or wrestler as Allen. He’s also not as strong as Allen. It’s going to be very difficult for Daukaus to get this fight on the ground. As a result, I think Allen is going to cruise to victory, and look to get that fight with Heinisch rescheduled.

Prediction: Brendan Allen by TKO – Round 3

Gian Villante vs Maurice Greene

In the second fight on the main card we have Gian Villante (17-11) moving up to heavyweight to take on Maurice Greene (8-4). Villante is one of the more seasoned guys on the UFC roster. Villante has been in the UFC for over seven years. He’s had highlights such as his knockout win over Corey Anderson, but he’s also had some low moments like getting knocked out by Michal Oleksiejczuk in the first round. Villante is a sprawl and brawl kind of fighter. He wants to stand and trade with anyone standing across from him. His striking skills are not bad, but they are also not elite in any way.

After winning his first three UFC fights, Maurce Greene has lost his last two fights. He was stopped in one fight and submitted in the other. Greene has a decent overall game, and he trains with one of the best gyms in the world, Jackson’s MMA, alongside Jon Jones. Greene has the big size advantage in this fight, and I think fighting off his jab is going to be key. Greene has shown at times that he does possess a very solid jab. Both of these men don’t have the best gas tanks in the world. As of today, I’m leaning towards this fight going the distance. I think Villante is going to have his moments, but I think ultimately Maurice Greene is going to score more leading to a victory.

Prediction: Maurice Greene by Unanimous Decision

Sean Woodson vs Julian Erosa

The main card on ESPN kicks off with a catchweight contest between Sean Woodson (7-0) and Julian Erosa (22-8). Woodson is one of the more interesting fighters in the UFC’s lower weight classes. While he fights at featherweight, Woodson stands an astonishing 6’3. There has been a lot said about how brutal the weight cut is for him. However, the size advantage comes into play nicely for him at 145 pounds. Woodson is a pretty good kick-boxer who likes to strike from range. It’s hard for anyone in the UFC’s featherweight division to get near him when he’s sporting a 78 inch range.

Julian Erosa is in his second stent in the UFC. Erosa is a guy who likes to use his striking, and he’s pretty aggressive in the octagon. Erosa got his second opportunity in the UFC after he knocked out Jamall Emmers on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. After getting back into the UFC, Erosa is 0-3 getting stopped twice. While Erosa fights at a high pace, I think he’s going to have a ton of trouble overcoming the four inch reach disadvantage. Woodson is not a finisher, and I don’t think a finish is coming in this fight, but I think Woodson’s ability to strike from range is going to be the deciding factor in this one.

Prediction: Sean Woodson by Unanimous Decision

UFC on ESPN 12 Outlook

I’m really excited about this weekend’s card. I’m very interested in the main event, but there are fights throughout the evening I’m excited about. I’m very anxious to watch Jinh Yu Frey and Kay Hansen fight it out. That is a fight that I would prefer to see on the main card over a couple of those fights. Ultimately folks are going to tune in for the Poirier/Hooker fight, and I don’t blame them. It should be a good fight, and one that you won’t want to turn away from.

UFC: Mike Perry’s interesting corner choice for UFC on ESPN 12

The UFC‘s Mike Perry (13-6) is definitely an interesting character. Whether it’s faking out opponents at the weigh in hand shakes or just saying outlandish stuff, Perry is always fascinating to watch. In addition to being a very unique person, Perry is as tough as they come. He doesn’t shy away from any fight, and if you need more proof of his toughness, just take a look at the picture for this article. Perry has been in there with some of the best guys in the world. He’s got great skills overall, and he always puts on a show. However, there is something outside of his fighting that a lot of people are talking about leading into Saturday’s fight against Mickey Gall (6-2). That’s Mike Perry’s corner choice. He went on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show to discuss his choice for UFC on ESPN 12.

Perry’s Girlfriend will corner him for UFC on ESPN 12

That’s right, “Platinum” will only have one corner member for Saturday, and it will be his girlfriend. Now to his credit, he does say that she has boxing and wrestling experience which helps her, but her job is not to give him advice. Perry told Helwani that he doesn’t need any coaching for his UFC fights. Perry claims to have envisioned every scenario, and a coaches input can only throw him off. Perry has trained with some of the best trainers in the world, but he’s out to prove that he doesn’t need coaching to win in the UFC. Perry did clarify his coaching future to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto later in the day:

As you can see, the plan in the future is to bring coaches back into the fold. Perry is out to prove a point at UFC on ESPN 12. It’s going to be extremely fascinating to watch a main card fighter essentially have no one in his corner. Yes, his girlfriend will be there, but she’s been instructed to only cheer him on when he wins. I’ll give Perry this, he’s always entertaining. 

UFC: For Dan Hooker, Saturday night is his chance to prove he’s championship material

UFC on ESPN 12 is being headlined by a lightweight matchup with huge implications. The former interim champion, Dustin Poirier (25-6), is looking to get back to a title shot after losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov last September. In the other corner, you have Dan Hooker (20-8) who is looking to prove that he belongs with the absolute best in the world.

Early Struggles

Hooker will be making the walk for the fifteenth time in his UFC career on Saturday night. His fifteenth UFC fight comes almost six years to the day after his debut back in June of 2014. Hooker started his career in the UFC‘s featherweight division. Hooker was massive for the division, and he always seemed depleted due to the harsh weight cut. At 145 pounds, Hooker went just 3-3 in six fights. After the struggles, Hooker decided to make the move to lightweight, and that has turned his entire career around.

Journey to the top of the UFC’s Lightweight Division

Since Hooker made the jump to 155, he’s been one of the best guys in the division. Since that jump back in 2017, Hooker has gone 7-1 with five finishes. Hooker looks completely refreshed at lightweight. He had one bad performance against Edson Barboza, but outside of that, he’s looked incredible. The fight against Poirier on Saturday night is the biggest fight of Hooker’s career. Hooker has stated over and over again that he truly believes he’s one of the best in the world. Saturday night is his chance to prove it.

If he can go out and beat Dustin Poirier, he’s on the short list to face the winner of Khabib/Gaethje. If he doesn’t want to wait, maybe Dana White would be enticed to pair up Hooker and Conor McGregor. McGregor retired due to the lack of options from the UFC. Hooker would be just the kind of guy you would want to pair up against the Notorious one. A win on Saturday night changes everything for Dan Hooker. Check out “The Hangman’s” last performance against Paul Felder below.

UFC: Aspen Ladd tears ACL; Out of UFC on ESPN 12

UFC

Next week’s UFC card just suffered a hit as top bantamweight contender, Aspen Ladd (9-1) has been forced off the card after tearing her ACL.

UFC on ESPN 12 loses a good one

One of the fights I was really looking forward to next week was Ladd taking on former title challenger, Sara McMann (12-5). McMann, a former silver medalist in Olympic wrestling, was going to pose an interesting challenge for the rising contender. Ladd has a solid game all the way around, but I was really curious to watch her against the former Olympian. There is no word on if McMann will remain on the card as of this point. As John Morgan pointed out, it will likely be anywhere from six months to a year before Ladd is able to actually compete given the recovery timeline. A win next Saturday would have put Ladd in a good position for a UFC title shot. This is a massive setback for her career.

Still a strong card

The good thing for the UFC is that the card next weekend has some really solid fights up and down. This is one of the fights that I was the most excited for, but there are plenty of solid replacement options for the main card. All we can do is hope for a speedy recovery for Ladd as she recovers from this devastating knee injury.

UFC: Ian Heinisch out; Kyle Daukaus to fight Brendan Allen at UFC on ESPN 12

The UFC‘s June 27th card has seen it’s first fighter fall. UFC middleweight, Ian Heinisch (14-3), was scheduled to fight Brendan Allen (14-3), but an injury has forced Heinisch off the card. Heinisch just competed back at UFC 250 on June 6th, but he wanted a quick turn around. With Heinisch out, the UFC turned to a veteran of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series to be the replacement.

UFC dream realized for Daukaus

Brendan Allen will be staying on the card, and he will be fighting Kyle Daukaus (9-0), who will be making his official debut in the UFC. Daukaus is a wizard on the ground, winning eight of his nine fights by submission. Daukaus was the Cage Fury Fighting Championships middleweight champion, and he will get to step right into a UFC main card. This fight is incredibly facinating on paper due to the fact that both men carry eight submissions wins into the Octagon on June 27th.

For Allen, it’s a big change in styles. Heinisch is the kind of guy who is going to go right after you on the feet, where as Daukaus is the kind of guy who wants the fight to be on the ground immediately. Allen was going to have a very short camp to prepare for Heinisch, and now he has an even shorter camp to prepare for Daukaus at UFC on ESPN 12. There are not a lot of highlights of Daukaus out there, but if you want to learn more about him, check out the video below done by Cage Fury detailing Daukaus and his brother, Christopher.