Hooker: I Can’t Be A Contender In The Current Lightweight Landscape
published on December 2, 2021
curated and posted by BRWLRZ Team

Dan Hooker has suggested his likely return to featherweight derives from the fact he can no longer be a contender in the current lightweight landscape.

A month out from his latest defeat in the Octagon, Hooker hinted towards a possible move back down to the weight class in which he began his career in. In a clip posted to Twitter, “The Hangman” can be seen making the 146-pound limit for non-title featherweight fights. He later confirmed the planned move in various interviews.

Hooker’s decision to return to the division he went 3-3 in between 2014 and 2016 comes after his initially successful lightweight stint came to a faltering end across the last year. Since victories over the likes of James Vick, Al Iaquinta, Gilbert Burns, and Paul Felder left him 7-1 at 155 pounds, the New Zealander has lost three out of four fights.

After falling short in a five-round war against top contender Dustin Poirier last June, Hooker was finished by the debuting Michael Chandler in January this year. Following a brief rebound against unranked prospect Nasrat Haqparast in September, the 31-year-old was submitted by surging Dagestani Islam Makhachev in Abu Dhabi a month later.

In an interview with It’s Time For Sports, Hooker discussed his decision to set his sights on another divisional roster after his second loss of 2021. Having been beaten by three of the top five, “The Hangman” suggested he can’t be a contender at lightweight until the landscape of the weight class changes.

“It’s just not exciting, what are you gonna go back (and fight the same guys)? you know what I mean? I’m just being real. I know where my skillset lies with those guys and I know the circumstances of the fights and the circumstances that those fights were taken under, I understand that, and I understand that if everything was a perfect world, the results of those fights definitely wouldn’t be what they were. We all know that.

“But that’s not the fact of the situation. The fact of the situation is that I’ve lost to three of the top-five guys. Under that landscape, this is just fact, under that landscape, you’re not gonna be able to make a run at the top couple of guys in the division or towards the belt until the landscape of that division changes. You would have to stay busy and fight until the landscape of the division changes, or move down to a division which I feel comfortable competing in and I feel like I have a lot of advantages in that division.”

Hooker Has Options At Featherweight

The featherweight division is about as exciting and stacked as any other in the UFC right now. Below Hooker’s teammate Alexander Volkanovski, who’s ruled the weight class since 2019, are a host of elite contenders, including Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez, Giga Chikadze, and Arnold Allen. There are very few matchups for Hooker that won’t get fans’ imaginations running wild.

But for Hooker, there’s one man head and shoulders above the rest. In a fight just as mouth-watering as any that could be put together in the promotion, the New Zealander wants to throw down with “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung.

Despite having a preference, Hooker isn’t fussy. He’s willing to challenge anyone the fans want to see him up against, and recently expressed a willingness to enter the Octagon with fellow brawler Calvin Katter. Replying to a tweet from Chael Sonnen that suggested a clash with “The Boston Finisher” could mark his arrival back at featherweight, Hooker simply said, “Count me in.”

Who would you like to see Dan Hooker enter the Octagon with at featherweight?

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