Hooker: Turning Down Fights While You’re Healthy Is Unfathomable To Me
published on February 2, 2022
curated and posted by BRWLRZ Team

Fan favorite and always-game UFC star Dan Hooker has questioned why fighters who are “young and healthy” turn down bouts.

If there’s ever been a fighter down for anyone and everyone, it’s “The Hangman.” Hooker has never shied away from an opponent, from the thankless task of welcoming three-time Bellator champion Michael Chandler to the UFC to a short-notice clash with fear-inducing Dagestani phenom Islam Makhachev.

It’s that exact willingness that has landed him in a featherweight matchup against rising Englishman Arnold Allen at UFC London on March 19.

Allen is currently 8-0 in the UFC, a record that includes wins against Makwan Amirkhani, Nik Lentz, and Sodiq Yusuff, and is ranked #7 at 145 pounds. However, he is yet to breakthrough as one of the bigger names on the roster.

With that in mind, there’s seemingly not a host of high-ranked names willing to face the “Almighty” Ipswich native. In Hooker’s mind, he’s usually the one who ends up in front of those kind of opponents.

But while that may have led to his downfall at lightweight, for the time being at least, Hooker isn’t planning on changing his strategy.

During a recent interview with John Hyon Ko for The AllStar, the New Zealander said the idea of turning down fights is “unfathomable” to him at this point in his career. While he’s healthy and young, he sees no reason not to accept opponents.

“I get in the gym and I have fun. You’re doing all this training, young and fit, make hay while the sun is shining,” said Hooker. “If I’m healthy I’ll take a fight. Turning down a fight while you’re young and healthy is just unfathomable to me. That’s not something I comprehend. If you’re fit and healthy, you see (some) like, ‘Wait, wait, wait, wait.’

“Man, it’s such a small period of time that you have the opportunity to go out there and be young, and get after it, and really chase goals, and do things. So, I’m just making the most of that. I’m definitely making the most of that,” concluded Hooker.

Dan Hooker’s take on the practice of turning down fights comes after UFC lightweight Gregor Gillespie was accused of doing exactly that.

Following his first setback in professional MMA, a brutal knockout loss to Kevin Lee in 2019, Gillespie didn’t enter the Octagon for nearly two years. He returned at UFC Vegas 26 last May and finished Brazilian veteran Carlos Diego Ferreira via second-round TKO.

But without a fight booked since, it appears it could be another year gap between fights yet again for the top-10 155lber. While the UFC has to offer its fighters three bouts a year, Gregor Gillespie has fought just twice across the past three years.

In the mind of former UFC star-turned-MMA analyst Chael Sonnen, Gillespie’s inactivity is his own fault. “The American Bad Guy” recently revealed he’d heard talk of “The Gift” turning down multiple opportunities and instead attempting to hand-pick Tony Ferguson as his next foe.

While Sonnen provided little evidence, a callout late last year from Arman Tsarukyan provided some legitimacy to the claim. In an Instagram post, the Armenian-Russian suggested he’d accepted an offer to face Gillespie from the UFC. However, with him now set to face a different opponent, it stands to reason Gillespie turned it down.

If Sonnen’s sources are correct, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what Hooker’s thoughts on Gillespie would be…

Do you agree with Dan Hooker? Is it wrong for “young and healthy” fighters to be turning down bout offers?

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