Dan Hooker victorious at UFC 266

In a dominant display, Dan Hooker (right) broke a two fight losing streak at UFC 266 - Photo: UFC AUS-NZ/ Twitter

UFC 266 has kicked off in dominant style for fighters from Oceania with New Zealand Lightweight Dan Hooker winning a unanimous decision over Nasrat Kaqparast (30-27 x 2, 30-26).

After visa issues almost stopped Hooker from making it to Las Vegas to compete, his resilience was on full display with a dominant in cage performance.

The proud Kiwi dictated terms across the first five minutes of the fight, taking the centre of the octagon to keep Haqparast close to the fence.

With no room for his opponent to work, the Auckland based fighter landed kicks both high and low. Despite a pair of explosive power left hands, Haqparast’s attacks were virtually non-existent.

A similar trend continued into the second round, where Hooker increased his volume. On several occasions, he was able to secure a strong Thai clinch and land heavy knees against the cage.

Changing levels soon after, Hooker capitalised with a single leg takedown that turned into side control to ride out the second.

After recieving instruction from trainer Firas Zahabi and newly inducted UFC Hall of Fame member, George St Pierre, Haqparast left his stool for round three with much more intent to his strikes.

This was thwarted by a well-timed double-leg take down 90 seconds in by Hooker however, who again assumed side control to assert his dominance.

The rubber stamp on the result was well placed by a late body lock takedown and well placed ground strikes in the final minute of the bout.

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Speaking post-fight to former UFC champion and analyst, Daniel Cormier, Hooker paid his respect to the journey of his foe.

Also dealing with visa issues, Haqparast’s interrupted travel path only compounded the passing of his mother in the weeks leading into the fight.

“My journey was very easy compared to him,” Hooker said.

Far from disappointed though, Hooker recognised the adversity he had faced before calling out a potential next opponent.

“I spent the last four weeks of this camp training in my garage in New Zealand,” he added.

“I also want to thank everyone who tried to stop me from being here. You gave me the motivation.

“I heard (Beneil) Dariush is looking for a fight, I’m your man. You’re a coward if you duck me!”

With the win, Hooker breaks a two-fight losing streak and solidifies his eighth placed ranking in the UFC’S Lightweight division.

Later today, City Kickboxing teammate and Australian star Alex Volkanovski will defend his Featherweight title against Brian Ortega in the main event of UFC 266.

UFC 266 is live from 12pm AEST and can be ordered via Main Event and Kayo, here.



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About Liahm O'Brien 66 Articles
Liahm is a features writer based in Burnie, Tasmania. His writing focuses on the human side of combat sports, painting a full picture of the athletes we see from the stands or on our tv screens. In 2017, he was published in The Footy Almanac.

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