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New Fight Recap: UFC Fight Night – Poirier vs Hooker

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A slugfest was promised and a slugfest was delivered. Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker turned in a fight of the year contender Saturday night at the UFC APEX. It was a wild back-and-forth brawl that saw Poirier get the nod unanimously, but the scorecards could not tell the whole story. The fight was violent, dramatic and a hell of a lot of fun to witness. 

 

UFC
Photo Credit: MMA Fighting

Hooker set the pace early, walking down Poirier and keeping him at the end of his punches. He did a tremendous job attacking the body with good combinations and mixing it up by going to the head as well. He seemed to have better control of the cage in the early rounds as well, backing Poirier up against the cage and throwing punches in volume. When Poirier landed, however, he did so with authority and snapped Hooker’s head backward each time. 

Hooker’s best striking moments came while the fight was in kickboxing range, while Poirier found his groove in the clinch with dirty boxing and technical brawling. The striking volume each fighter dished out was incredibly abundant and punishing. Hooker came close to finishing the fight at the end of the 2nd round with a massive flurry of punches and a knee to cap it off, but Poirier’s toughness was on point, and he survived. 

 

Although Poirier often sought out the clinch first to dirty box, Hooker generally got the better of the wrestling exchanges.

 

He took Poirier’s back while standing and landed multiple takedowns throughout the fight, but he was unable to capitalize once the fight hit the canvas. Poirier displayed some good offensive jiu-jitsu once he was down and attempted several submissions to prevent Hooker from doing damage from the top position. 

 

Poirier’s closest fight-ending sequence came in the 4th round when he landed a takedown of his own and passed Hooker’s guard.

 

He took the back as Hooker was standing and dove for a triangle-armbar attempt. Hooker popped his head out, and Poirier transitioned to the Omoplata attempt but was unable to finish the submission. This beautiful grappling exchange was just a bonus to an already outstanding fight full of fireworks and momentum swings. 

As the 5th round began, it was likely tied at two rounds apiece, and the winner of this round would probably take the decision. Poirier seemed to be the fresher fighter and was landing more damage than he was receiving.

Hooker landed a takedown halfway through the round, and that could have been the fight-winning sequence, but he was unable to hold on. Poirier made his way back to his feet and punished Hooker as they stood. Hooker attempted several more takedowns before the end but was stuffed every time, and Poirier finished the fight in the dominant position.

UFC
Photo Credit: Bloody Elbow

At the end of it all, although Poirier was the one to get his hand raised, there was no loser in Saturday’s main event. Hooker’s stock continues to rise as one of the toughest lightweights in the UFC, and he’ll likely draw another top-5 opponent in his next outing. He could have easily gotten the nod Saturday and stepped up as the next likely title contender for the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje

Instead, Poirier incredibly bounced back from a tough title loss and got right back into contention. Going into Saturday’s fight against Hooker, it was thought that another title shot for Poirier would be a tough sell, considering he had just lost. But after such an extraordinary performance, he could be tough to deny for much longer.

 

 

The UFC currently boasts an embarrassment of riches at the top of the lightweight division. Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker just proved why they belong at the top of that list. 

 

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-Leo Schauer – Franchise Sports Media 

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