UFC fan favorite Dan Hooker is ready to make a splash when he returns to featherweight, starting with an impressive performance against England’s Arnold Allen.
Despite his recent run of form consisting of losses to some of the best lightweights in the world, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, and Islam Makhachev, Hooker feels that to remain in contention for UFC gold, he has to make a change.
Believing he doesn’t have a place among the 155-pound elite until the landscape of the division changes, “The Hangman” made the decision to move back to 145 pounds.
While he initially targeted dream fights with “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung and Brian Ortega, Hooker has had to settle for a contender outside the top five. Nevertheless, a victory over Allen will certainly insert the New Zealander right into the title picture at featherweight.
The pair are set to throw down on March 19, a date that will signal the promotion’s return to London, England. While “Almighty” Allen targets a triumph in front of his home crowd, Hooker will be looking to spoil the party for the Ipswich native.
Hooker Hopes To Steal Allen’s Momentum
Despite going 1-3 in his last four Octagon outings, Hooker isn’t returning to featherweight with the aim of taking easier matchups and rising the ranks slowly. He wants to get straight into the mix at 145 pounds and book dates with the top names in the division.
With Allen, that is exactly what he’s getting. The Englishman is unbeaten in the UFC. Across his unblemished 8-0 promotional record, the 28-year-old has established himself as one of the fastest-rising contenders thanks to victories over Makwan Amirkhani, Nik Lentz, and Sodiq Yusuff.
Discussing how the matchup came together in an interview with The AllStar, Hooker explained why Allen is the kind of opponent he usually accepts, while others tend to turn down.
“He is really good, but not like, a big name. I can see why I got that fight because I generally get the fights that other people don’t wanna take,” said Hooker. “That’s generally how I wind up with opponents… I feel like this is the situation with Arnold Allen, where he’s a super-talented fighter, very technical, well-rounded, and not the biggest name. Those are the difficult fights.”
While others have perhaps shied away from the challenge of defeating Allen, Hooker is excited by the prospect of becoming the first blemish on the #7-ranked contender’s résumé.
“For sure, it excites me to get out there and get the opportunity to stop that run, stop a run like that, undefeated in the UFC, 8-0. That’s a huge accomplishment in itself, to reach that sort of achievement, so the opportunity to get out there and stop it, and to take all of that momentum that he’s carrying off those eight wins and take it for myself, that’s what excites me about this fight.”
While he isn’t taking the task of handing Allen his first loss in MMA’s premier promotion lightly, Hooker is anticipating a place right in the mix among the featherweight elite if he is successful on March 19.
“Without a doubt, he’s #7 and he’s got all that hype,” added Hooker. “I’m not looking past Arnold or anything like that, but yeah, that (victory over Allen) gets you one of those big-name guys in the division, and that’s really like, my main motivation for going down to featherweight and for making the cut, to put myself straight back in the mix.”
Having previously gone 3-3 during his initial stint at featherweight in the UFC, Hooker will be after more consistency when he makes his return to the lighter weight class.
Who do you think will have their hand raised at UFC London, Dan Hooker or Arnold Allen?
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