Dan Hooker Proves He Belongs at Elite Level Despite Defeat to Dustin Poirier

Fifth round of a Fight of the Year contender and Dan Hooker is still eating huge, power punches from one of the best pure boxers in the game in Dustin Poirier.

While his latest fight ended with a unanimous decision defeat to ‘The Diamond’, Dan Hooker has proved he belongs among the elite of the most stacked division in MMA with his performance last night.

‘Hangman’ took everything Poirier had to offer on the feet and dished out his own punishment, including kicks, knees and punches while also showing he’s no slouch on the ground either. Poirier had guillotines, armbars and even an omoplata locked up throughout the fight but Hooker managed to fight out of it every time.

While the loss will obviously mean he’s further away from a title fight than he wants to be, he’s still surely in the picture. He was expecting that a win over Poirier would see him next in line for the Lightweight title, where he would fight the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.

Poirier believed that he was two wins away from getting back into the title picture and his win over Hooker means he’s one closer to that target. MMA journalist Ariel Helwani suggested that Poirier could take on former contender Tony Ferguson next in what would be a mouth-watering contest. But what about Hooker?

UFC Fight Night: Lee v Oliveira : News Photo
Charles Oliveira should be next for Dan Hooker

‘Hangman’ has already beaten Paul Felder, Poirier and Ferguson seems like a more likely match-up and Gaethje is already booked with the champ. Of the fighters currently ranked above him, that leaves only Conor McGregor. As much as fans may want to see it and I’m sure Hooker would love it, there is no way McGregor gets out of bed, or retirement, for a fight with Hooker coming off a loss.

That means he has to fight down the rankings. Charles Oliveira is currently on a seven-fight win streak after he beat Kevin Lee. That match up would almost certainly prove to be every bit as exciting as this one was, with Oliveira a clean striker but so much more dangerous on the ground. Hooker’s chin has withstood the test of the Lightweight divisions best strikers so far so Oliveira would propose a different challenge for him.

It would also mean two contenders still battling it out against each other which is surely something Dana White will take into consideration. The issue with the fight is we don’t know when Hooker will be ready to go again.

He took a lot of damage in this fight with Poirier and dished plenty out too, enough for ‘The Diamond’ to state in his post-fight interview that he doesn’t expect to fight again now until next year. If Hooker is in the same scenario, then that’s a long lay-off for Oliveira, who beat Lee in March.

It’s the obvious fight to make and if all parties are willing, could be a spectacular way to close out or open the year.

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