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Dan Hooker Focused On Michael Chandler, Big Fight After

Dan Hooker has the biggest fight of his career set for this weekend when he faces Michael Chandler at UFC 257.

But Hooker is also thinking about what would be next after a win over the former Bellator lightweight champion.

Hooker recently joined Submission Radio to talk about Chandler, Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor and more.

On the uncertainty around being on UFC 257

“We didn’t get that fight signed and sealed until the day or two before I got on the plane to come over here. It all got announced like two weeks out, but it was up in the air for a good six weeks of training. So, I was in camp, training through Christmas, training through all the New Years, holidays and things like that, and it was still all up in the air. So, I’m just glad that it all come through.”

“I think just because of the environment that it is at the moment, with the COVID and getting people over here, and the complexity of getting me back to New Zealand with the isolation. I think there were just so many moving parts, that it just took a while for everything to fall into place. I don’t feel like anyone or the UFC was trying to do me dirty or anything like that, or there was any big hold up. I just felt like there was so many moving parts and so many things that could go wrong. But, perfect storm, and I’m over here, he’s over here. We’re all through the COVID testing. So, I’m happy with that.”

On giving Chandler credit for his Bellator run

“I definitely give him credit for what he’s achieved, and I can see where all the excitement is coming from. Like, the guy has been competing at the highest level for such a long period of time, and his third fight he ever had was in Bellator. That’s pretty incredible, the stretch and the run he’s had at the top tier that he’s had. So, yeah, I definitely see what all the fuss is about.”

What makes Chandler dangerous

“His danger will be in his high risk, high reward style. Like, he doesn’t start slow. You go back and look at any fight he’s had, he’s not really big on the feeling out processes. He goes out there, and as soon as he gets a chance he’s gonna try and take your head off. So, it’s a high risk, high reward style. It’s lead to him with a lot of first-round finishes, but it’s also been a detriment to him as well. He’s been clipped early on in fights. So, I’m just expecting a fast start. I think the danger will lie in those first moments of the fight until I get my timing in and find my range. And then I think it will be fairly easy for me to control the fight after that.”

“I want everyone to give him the credit he deserves. I feel like he definitely deserves all that momentum he’s got behind him, and I just want the rewards that come with the momentum he has behind him. Everyone, they’re putting him as the backup to the title, they’re giving him all this hype, people saying he’s one fight away from earning a title shot in the UFC. I want all of that. Because I want to go out there, beat him and take all of that excitement that he has behind him. I don’t want it to be the case where I beat him clean and then they go, ‘oh, he mustn’t be that good anyway’. I think he is that good, I think he does deserve that. I just feel and I know that I’m the better fighter”

On pulling a “Tonya Harding” if the UFC tried to put Chandler in the main event

“Baby, I’m stepping in, I’m stepping in. You would have to send a security guard up to my room if say Dustin Poirier fell out and then they threw him into McGregor. I’m doing a – what’s that movie where the ice-skating chick breaks the other one’s knee? I’ll be chasing him down. I, Hooker. I will be “I-Hooking” him in the bloody breakfast buffet. There’s no way, there’s no way. At the end of the day, I truly feel like that’s just gonna come down to whoever McGregor picks. If that comes down to Poirier, I feel like it just comes down to whoever McGregor wants to pick. It’s between me and Chandler, so I’m focusing on Chandler. ’m 100 percent focused on that and that fight. Everyone’s here, everyone’s on the island, everyone’s been tested. So, I think the chances of that turning out or someone failing a COVID test is slim to none anyway.”

Why McGregor/Poirier makes sense being a title fight

“Yeah I feel like Poirer/McGregor fight makes sense for the title. Both guys coming off wins. They’re the only two guys coming off with a bit of momentum behind them. I definitely feel like this fight should be for the title, but it doesn’t look like it’s gonna be this one. But whoever is successful between Poirier and McGregor, it’s gonna be them fighting for the title next. It’s kind of like an unofficial interim title.”

On who he wants if he wins at UFC 257

“I feel like they put him as the backup for the title, they’re saying he’s one fight away from the title. They tried to get Gaethje, they tried to get Oliveira. They turned the fight down, and now I’m stepping in there and fighting Michael Chandler because they didn’t take the fight. So, they had him as the backup for the title, they’re saying he’s one fight away from the title, I’m just saying, this is the sport of opportunity. Gaethje didn’t want it. Charles Oliveira didn’t want it. I took the fight, I stepped into that spot. I want the opportunity. I’m stepping up to the plate. I took this fight, I trained through everything, I trained through all of the uncertainty, I want the same rewards that either one of those two guys would’ve got, had they taken the fight.”

“It would be, it has to be the winner of Poirier and McGregor. That’s who you would pick. But everyone is saying they’re trying to make Charlie Olivs and Gaethje. It will come down to who has the most impressive performance. If they go out there and they have a snoozefest or it’s close or something like that, anything can happen. One of those two, even though he wins, he breaks his hand or he gets injured. Then it will be the winner of our fight. I feel like winner of Conor/Poirier is next for the title, and then our other two fights are kind of the one that’s gonna step across from him, is the one that’s going to put on the best performance.”

On Conor not trash talking leading into fights anymore

 “I feel like just because he is, that was like on the come-up, that was to earn his seat at the table. You know, he was hungry, he was wild, he was brash, he doesn’t mind asking for things, and I feel like I’m in a similar position now. But now he’s at the top and he’s in the position where he gets to choose who he fights. So, it’s other people’s roles to call him out to fight or to get him interested in a fight. So, it’s a complete opposite. He doesn’t need to go out there and sell fights anymore. He’s a huge name, he’s a household name, so the fights sell themselves.”

“Conor McGregor’s another one of those… he’s like the champ, pretty much. That’s probably the number one reason why it’s difficult to maintain the title or be a champion for an extended period of time, because everyone’s training for you. Everyone’s training for you. If you’re the champion, you’re just taking the next comer, the next comer, the next comer and whatever style or game they have at the time. But those top-20, top-30, top-40, top-50 guys see you as the champ, and they start thinking, ‘man, if I was gonna fight Khabib, this is how I’d fight him’. Conor’s one of those guys. I guarantee you the top 50, the top 100 lightweights in the world have thought about how they would fight Conor McGregor, and I’m no different. I’ve watched his whole career, I definitely respect his skills. Skill for skill, with Khabib out of the picture, I truly feel that McGregor’s the most technically sound lightweight that there is.”

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