05/03/2024

Dan Hooker celebrates post-fight - Photo: UFC

Never shy of a challenge, Dan Hooker makes his return to the Featherweight division for the first time since 2016 against Arnold Allen at UFC London.

After a tough stretch at Lightweight, New Zealand’s Dan Hooker (21-11, 11-7 UFC) is gearing up for a return to the Featherweight division for the first time since 2016, facing off against Arnold Allen (17-1, 8-0 UFC) at UFC London.

In his part four fights, the 33 year old has suffered three losses, all to Lightweight title contenders in Dustin Poirier (28-7-0-1, 20-6-0-1 UFC), Michael Chandler (22-7, 1-2 UFC) and most recently Islam Makhachev (22-1, 11-1 UFC).

The New Zealand native came to the realisation that his dream at UFC gold wouldn’t happen at 155lbs and will be hoping to string a couple wins together and challenge his good friend, Australian Alex Volkanovski, for the Featherweight crown.

Conversely, his upcoming opponent Arnold Allen, holds a perfect 8-0 record in the UFC and will be hoping to carry on his winning ways in his home-country of England.

Hooker insisted that his weight cut has not been an issue though, and that he is only struggling to adapt to the jetlag.

“Weight cut easy, jetlag hard, that’s all I have to say about that. People have been hammering me about the weight cut and getting down to ’45. The weight’s in the back of my mind, that’s easy work,” Hooker told the media.

With the weight seemingly not an issue, Hooker’s focus will now be keeping the fight off the ground, with Allen possessing a lethal ground and submission game.

Refreshed and up for the challenge, ‘The Hangman’ admitted there were various personal and fighting reasons for his original move from Featherweight to Lightweight.

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“There’s only a handful of people that know the real reason, it was kind of a fresh start, a lot changed at that stage in my life. I was 3-3 in the UFC,’ he said.

“When I made the move to Lightweight I moved myself back to New Zealand, I committed to City Kickboxing.

“I look at the first Featherweight run as my internship. My lightweight run was like work-experience, taking any fight, being put in all these tough situations, that built a callus around me. Now I’m going back to Featherweight as a consummate professional.”

While Hooker admitted a title shot is highly unlikely this year, he predicts the winner of this fight to move on to a top five ranked opponent in the division.

“There’s a couple of guys in the top five that will be without a dance partner. If the winner of this fight beats one of those guys, he’s right there in the mix for the next title shot,” Hooker theorised.

Hooker noted his extensive study of Allen’s previous fights, in a bid to find where he can find a fighting advantage.

“He’s mainly fought short stocky wrestlers that try and take him down and that’s not me. It’s kind of hard to compare any one kind of opponent that’s he’s been on. He might be able to take on a tall-rangy guy quite, but we’re gonna have to see,” he claimed.

“He’s [Allen] definitely well-rounded, he deserves his eight-fight win streak, he deserves the ranking and the position he’s found himself in here in the UFC. It’s definitely well-warranted”.

The Kiwi admitted that he strategically picks his opponents by their division ranking, claiming he doesn’t pay much attention to the fighters other than the “pretty little number next to their name.”

“It’s a win-win situation for the UFC – either they get a guy on a win streak that beats someone with some name value or, they get someone with some name value who takes that win streak,” he said.

“After this fight I’ll be on a nine-fight win streak, so I’m excited to move on to the future with my nine-fight win streak.”

Hooker concluded by highlighting the confidence in his ability to bounce back from some tough losses, crediting his experience in the UFC.

“The benefit of experience is that pressure is like a tap and that can only come with experience. If I’m under too much pressure, I have the ability to control that and turn it down, process some things, manage that process,” Hooker concluded.

“I also know the process to turn that pressure up a little bit, because you need that pressure. When you have the pressure, you bring up the nerves and that brings out the best in you, that’s where you do your best performances.”

The former Lightweight contender predicted he would “outclass” Allen in what would be his first Featherweight win since a triumph in Brisbane in 2016.

Hooker vs Allen will serve as the co-main event of UFC London (7am AEDT, Sunday March 20) and can be viewed on Kayo, here.

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