Daniel Hooker Talks UFC Japan, MMA in New Zealand

Daniel Hooker is a 24-year-old professional mixed martial arts fighter based in Auckland, New Zealand.   “The Hangman” is coming off of an incredible fight with Maximo Blanco at UFC Fight Night 52 in Tokyo, Japan on September 20th.  Dan came up on the losing end of a unanimous 29-28 decision for Maxi.  Maximo Blanco was able to win most of the first round and cut Dan in the 2nd round.  Dan surged back in the 3rd round, hurting Blanco.  Maximo had this to say about the fight during his post-fight speech “My whole body hurts. I thought I was going to be able to stop him, especially after that cut. But he just kept going. Then when he kneed me, he knocked the wind right out of me. I was dead on my feet, but I just kept going.”.  Dan is now 1-1 in the UFC, having stopped Ian Entwistle in his debut fight.  Dan was the Australian Fighting Championships (AFC) Lightweight Champion before dropping to featherweight for his debut fight in June.  Fight Sport Asia was able to catch up with Dan after his fight:

Courtesy of BoutReview; Dan smashes an elbow into Blanco’s face

 

Fight Sport Asia: Daniel, You’re fight with Maximo Blanco this past Saturday was one of the best fights on a star studded card in Japan. What were your impressions of how the fight went and have you had the opportunity to watch the fight since?
 

Daniel Hooker: Haven’t watched the fight yet but from what I remember it went terrible just a bad night at the office man and by the time my brain kicked into gear the damage was done and I just had to bite down on my mouth guard and try to finish

 

Dan: Just watched the fight, I think I felt I was hurting him in the clinch so was trying to push the fight from there, Retrospectively I would change my whole plan of attack

 

Fight Sport Asia: Were you surprised by his strategy in the fight? It looked as though he was trying to take you down early and often.
 

Dan: He mixed in his wrestling well with his strikes, he has a wrestling base so I wasn’t surprised he chose to utilize it

 

Fight Sport Asia: What changes would you have made despite your effectiveness in the clinch?
 

Dan: Just was rushing my self I just think a more methodical approach would have been Lot more successful

 

Fight Sport Asia: Is this something you will look to implement in your future fights or was this something you noticed you could have utilized against Blanco?
 

Dan: Just kind of lost my cool with Blanco which doesn’t generally happen, it’s a lesson I’ve learned in previous fights and I thought I had that one ticked of the list but I guess I needed a reminder

 

 

Fight Sport Asia: Do you believe this could have been due to atmosphere? You’re first fight was in Auckland and went very well for you. This fight was in Japan against a “hometown” opponent?
 

Dan: Na I more lost my cool because he punched me in the face haha your not going to fight in your backyard at every event it’s one of those things you have to learn to adapt to, the atmosphere was great the Japanese fans were cool and very respectful the entire event

 

Fight Sport Asia: The UFC returns to Australia on November 8th, are you looking to take a fight that soon? Did you sustain any injuries during the bout?
 

Dan: Just a few stitches, it wasn’t the first time and doubt it will be the last haha, I was given a no contact medical suspension so that kind of rules me out for Aus, I’m back in full training and ready to roll, the UFC kind of saves you from yourself with the stand downs

 

Fight Sport Asia: You seem to have the spirit and confidence to get right back in the cage. Is there a specific opponent that you would like to face in your next bout?
 

Dan: I’m just eager for redemption, their is only one thing in the world that extinguishes the agony of defeat and its that thrill if victory, the sooner I get that opportunity the better, I’m not to concerned with names just dates

 

Dan Hooker

 

 

Fight Sport Asia: You said you’re back in training, do you train full-time with Strikeforce in New Zealand or do you have any other gyms you train with? Talk about Strikeforce and the training you receive there?
 

Dan: Strikeforce is my second home that’s ware I spend a majority of my time it’s predominantly a Thai boxing gym but I also work with a bunch of kiwi guys from around the country we all work together to lift the level of MMA in NZ

 

Fight Sport Asia: You often talk about being proud of your heritage, do you believe this drive to improve and grow New Zealand’s MMA talent level keeps pushing and improving your game? Have you thought about leaving New Zealand to train before?
 

Dan: I have trained overseas a few times in my career, I love to travel and train and pick up new skills from various perspectives. But New Zealand is my home and that’s what I will always represent when I step in that octagon. I don’t fight for myself, I have NZ on my back and just want to make everyone proud.

 

Fight Sport Asia: How would you describe the popularity of MMA in New Zealand?
 

Dan: Combat sports have always had a strong history in New Zealand. We have had international success with great champions in boxing but particularly kick-boxing. Since UFC Auckland however MMA has had a lot of main stream media attention so the growth is evident. Their are a number of local fighters doing well internationally so the future is strong and the support is their to give these guys the opportunities they deserve.

 

Fight Sport Asia: Being well integrated into the UFC featherweight division, what goals do you have for yourself moving forward?
 

Dan: To make a name for myself in the division. I have the long term goal of being considered one of the best in the world, that will come one fight at a time with hard work and commitment to this sport.

 

 

Daniel can be followed on Facebook and Fund-a-Fighter.

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Categories: AFC, Asian MMA, Featured, Interview, Legend FC, MMA, Other, UFC

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