25/05/2024

Dan Hooker secured a TKO Victory to get back to winning ways (Photo: MMA Dirt/ Twitter)

The main card began with a bang as Dan Hooker (22-12) got a TKO victory over Claudio Puelles (13-2) after he delivered devastating body kicks to secure the win.

This win puts Hooker back in the win column and keeps him ranked in the UFC’s Lightweight division.

Hooker came into the first round strong, utilising his height and reach advantage to keep Puelles at bay. Constant jabs, feints and leg kicks allowed the Kiwi to dictate the fight early on.

‘The Hangman’ kept his hands outstretched and managed the distance well but the commentary team noticed Puelles looked slow and patient, weighing the risk of closing the distance. Puelles dived for a leglock soon after.

Hooker was unable to stop the leglock attempt and found himself defending the high-level grappling skills of Puelles, who immediately hunted for an inside heel hook.

Puelles used his ground time well, transitioning from heel hooks to top control until he found his signature kneebar, which he had used to win three of his last six fights. Hooker defended the submission by triangle-locking his legs.

Puelles again transitioned to a heel hook but Hooker was able to defend and scramble back to his feet. The Peruvian dived for another takedown but ‘The Hangman’ was able to manoeuvre away.

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Hooker began to push Puelles onto his backfoot, whilst his opponent tried to use the Kiwi’s momentum to lead him to the ground, but to no avail.

The second round began with Puelles quickly shooting for a takedown, which Hooker stuffed. ‘The Hangman’ landed a stunning jab and head kick, as a nervous Puelles continued shooting for takedowns unsuccessfully, hoping to avoid a stand-up brawl.

‘The Hangman’ began throwing clean combinations to the head, using a lot of feints. Puelles continued to shoot for takedowns but was visibly tired and non-committal, allowing Hooker to wrestle away from him.

Hooker, successfully reading through Puelles’ takedown attempts begins negating his game plan as he sprawled on a takedown and hit the Peruvian with punches to the body before standing back up.

A devastating body kick dropped Puelles but he managed to stand back up, throwing a wild cartwheel kick that missed its target. Puelles once again falls to the ground and the ref had seen enough, stopping the fight after 4:06 of the second round.

After a brief stint as a Featherweight and suffering several high-profile losses to top-ranked fighters, Dan Hooker has returned to the Lightweight division and cemented his place as a top contender.

During his post-fight octagon interview, ‘The Hangman’ voiced his desire to fight at UFC 284 in Perth.

“I’m 6 foot with a vicious hook,” Hooker said,

“Perth, I’m coming for you, any man walking the face of this Earth can get it!”

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