Morning Report: Dan Hooker interested in Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje: ‘Those are the only two options that make sense for me’

Last weekend, Dan Hooker scored the biggest win of his career, taking a split decision over Paul Felder in the main event of UFC Auckland. It was Hooker’s first main event and he came through with flying colors, playing his part in creating the early front-runner for Fight of the Year. But despite Hooker’s excellent performance there was one tiny flaw: many people believe Felder should have taken home the win.

A majority of the MMA media scored the fight for Felder and many fans also felt that “The Irish Dragon” was not give his due. But speaking with Ariel Helwani this week, Hooker dismissed the calls of “robbery” that have been floated out in the MMA ether, saying that upon rewatch he believes he won four rounds.

“I’m comfortable that I got the win,” Hooker said. “I won the first, second, and third, and the fifth round so I’m confident I won a majority of that fight. I thought it was pretty clear.

Much of the consternation from fans about the decision stem from the contours of the fight. Hooker established himself early in the bout, but as the fight went on, Felder seemed to get much stronger, with Hooker seemingly fading some in the championship rounds. Hooker obviously disagrees as he believes he won the fifth round but more importantly, disagrees with that entire characterization of the fight. Hooker says he fought a strategic fight against a very difficult opponent.

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinions,” Hooker said. “This is the first time I’ve ever won a split decision. This is the first time I’ve ever won a decision that’s been questioned so this is all new to me. He’s a tough guy. It took time. I had to play it smart. You fry fish, you don’t brisket. Paul Felder’s brisket; you’ve got to slow cook him.”

Ultimately, two of the three judges did favor Hooker’s barbecue and in the aftermath, “The Hangman” called for what would ostensibly be a number one contender’s bout against Justin Gaethje. But unfortunately for Hooker, Gaethje currently appears to be the front runner for fighting Conor McGregor next, so the New Zealand fighter has since amended his call out to also make room for former interim lightweight title holder Dustin Poirier.

“[Gaethje]’s just an exciting guy,” Hooker said when asked why that was the call out he chose. “Six fights, six bonuses. It’s something that intrigues me. But then it looks like him and Conor are gonna go. If I was Conor I’d take the Gaethje fight too. That’s an incredibly exciting fight, if he wants to stay busy.

“But if Gaethje is busy, then Poirier is the man. Either Gaethje or Poirier, those are the only two options that make sense for me.”

This is not the first time Poirier’s name has come out of Hooker’s mouth. Hooker first called Poirier out following his win over Al Iaquinta at UFC 243, but Poirier was uninterested in fighting someone so far below him in the rankings. Now though, Hooker has moved into the top-five of the lightweight division, just three spots back from Poirier, who is still without a dance partner.

Maybe this time, Hooker will finally get what he wants.


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Eurobash. Interviews with Royce Gracie, Brian Moore, and Cal Ellenor.

The Co-Main Event. Discussing Dan Hooker, Paul Felder, and the flyweight title fight.


Let’s go.

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Alan Patrick (15-2) vs. Christos Giagos (17-8); UFC Lincoln, April 25.

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Those would both be good fights, but I struggle to see either man being too interested in them. Both have their eyes on bigger game.

Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.


Poll

Who do you want to see Dan Hooker fight next?

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    Justin Gaethje

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    Dustin Poirier

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