Dan Hooker: Wants ranked opponent ‘if I take Jim out’ at UFC Fight Night 128
  • Dan Hooker: Wants ranked opponent ‘if I take Jim out’ at UFC Fight Night 128
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  • Apr 20
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  • By Katrina Mahoney

For every highly touted prospect, there comes a time when the UFC must set them against a tough veteran of the game to see them sink or swim.

Dan Hooker’s time is this weekend in Atlantic City at UFC Fight Night 128.

After two stand out performances, the UFC lightweight will face a true legend of the sport in Jim Miller. The “Hangman” has an opportunity to earn a crack at the upper echelon of the division, but will have to get past Miller in his home state of New Jersey to do so.

For Miller, this fight will be his 29th in the UFC and will tie the record currently held by Michael Bisping for the most number of UFC fights. Hooker says he’s excited to fight someone he was watching when he first started following MMA.

“Jim Miller’s a name I’ve wanted for a very long time,” said Hooker. “I feel like this fight for me is a great opportunity in that I will definitely get a ranked opponent if I take Jim out.”

Although on a three-fight losing streak, Miller is a difficult challenge for any opponent and is renowned for his extreme toughness and grit, a claim substantiated by nine UFC performance bonuses. Hooker says he’s trained broadly for this fight with a little extra emphasis on Miller’s southpaw stance and submission defence.

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Hooker has been a bit of a quiet achiever in his time with the UFC. His recent move to lightweight was a catalyst for two impressive victories over Ross Pearson and Marc Diakese and all of Hooker’s five UFC wins have come via stoppage. Hooker says finishing fights is not something he focuses on, but is more a symptom of his fight ‘personality.’

“I don’t think about it too much but I’ll take anything if they give it to me,” said Hooker.

“Your personality does come through in your fighting. Like Israel [Adesanya], he’s flashy, he’s sharp and when he talks he’s like that. That’s his personality.”

Of Hooker’s 15 professional wins, just one of them has gone to decision which he says “was just the worst feeling.”

“I feel like it’s just in my personality. I don’t feel like I’ve won unless I take the other guy out, unless I finish it. Then I feel like I leave no questions.”

Hooker laughs when asked if he’s done an interview since teammate Israel Adesanya’s UFC debut without him being mentioned.

“I don’t think I have,” he said, “But I don’t mind it at all.”

“He’s a big part of my training, and pushing me and challenging me, so any opportunity that I get to tell the world how good he is, I will take that.”

Hooker said Adesanya won’t be cornering him for this fight as he did against Marc Diakese, but did say he’d be in attendance.

“Israel will be in the crowd and I’m sure I’ll hear him from the crowd, just as loudly as if he was in my corner.”

Hooker is quick to promote his City Kickboxing teammates and coaches and has mentioned them in a number of UFC interviews in the past.

“There’s no way without my training partners or my coaches that I would be in this position anyway, so if I get the opportunity, I’m gonna say their names.

“I would love for all of us to do well. A rising tide lifts all the boats. I feel like the more of us that are doing well, then the more momentum for our team, our community, New Zealand fighters, ANZAC fighters. The more we promote each other and stick together then the better it is for all of us.”

Although Hooker appreciates the genuine support of fans who enjoy the insight into his training and daily life, he isn’t interested in the fame and attention that comes with being a fighter and says he fights for the people who stand by him regardless of his results.

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“As far as fame or anything like that, that’s not an ambition of mine. It’s not something I focus on. I just see it as a by-product of the way the sport has developed,” Hooker said.

“I was 3-3 when I got into this sport. That was my professional record. 3-3 when I started this sport and the same people that were around me then, they’re still around me now.

“I fight for my friends, I fight for my family, I fight for my country and I fight for the people that support me.”

Hooker believes a win over Miller should earn him a ranked opponent next.

“Anyone inside the top 15 I feel is equally as difficult a challenge, but I will definitely want a ranked opponent next,” Hooker said. “I think a ranking is the only logical step for me next.”

Hooker’s fight with Miller will kick off the main card of UFC Fight Night 128, which will be held this Sunday, April 22 (AU) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

  • Apr 20
  • |
  • Katrina Mahoney

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