Hooker Wasn’t Impressed With Oliveira’s Win Over Ferguson At UFC 256

Former UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson suffered a major setback at UFC 256, comfortably losing a unanimous decision to Charles Oliveira.

Oliveira was able to dominate the fight for three rounds, almost ripping Ferguson’s left arm off via a deep armbar in the first round. ‘El Cucuy’ has lauded his opponent for being the better fighter on the night, and made no excuses for his loss. Fellow lightweight contender Dan Hooker however, wasn’t overly impressed with the Brazilian’s performance.

The Crowd Factor

Speaking to Submission Radio (as transcribed by MMA Fighting), Hooker said that the absence of a crowd in the arena worked against Ferguson, and played in favour of Oliveira, who he says doesn’t do well in high-pressure situations.

“It’s pretty obvious to me what’s happened… [Tony]’s a crowd fighter, he draws energy from the crowd,” Hooker said. “Under those big moments, under the pressure, 10, 20, 30-thousand people there, you can’t tell me that doesn’t change the environment of the situation. And Charles Oliveira, to me, he’s a fighter that traditionally doesn’t do very well under the pressure of those big fights. You look at any big fight he’s had in his past, and he freezes, or he’ll crumble under the pressure of those big fights. So, to me, that’s what it was. Tony wasn’t awake. Tony didn’t look like he’d been riled up. And Charles Oliveira was in the zone, in his element, and freely doing his thing.”

Personal Experience

Hooker fought twice in 2020; he beat Paul Felder in February at UFC Auckland in a packed Spark Arena in New Zealand, and he lost to Dustin Poirier at UFC Vegas 4 in an empty UFC APEX in Las Vegas. The difference in the atmosphere of the two fights was huge.

“You can’t tell me that doesn’t change what you’re doing. Everyone is awesome at doing their day job, but it’s like, if you had to do your day job with 20,000 people there, yelling, screaming, getting you hyped up,” Hooker explained. “It’s just the whole – I’ve been through it, I’ve been through it before. I fought twice this year. Once in my hometown in front of a sold-out stadium of my countrymen, and then flying over to Las Vegas to the APEX where those two fought, and it’s dead, it’s quiet. I was the same. I like the crowds, I function well, and I love the pressure. I feel like it just builds. But, it’s the whole week. Open workouts, weigh-ins. When you got the crowds there, you can draw energy from it and it gets you going, or it makes fighters cramp up and freeze.

“Everyone’s got world champion training partners. That’s a thing, there’s a name for it. World Championship training partners. They’re the guys that will kick the arse of the biggest name fighter in your gym, but he struggles to compete in an amateur environment, he struggles to compete in like an in-house gym fight. You see them freeze. You can’t tell me that same thing doesn’t apply at the highest tier of the sport and it’s interesting that we’re just seeing that now. It definitely to me would have changed how that fight played out.”

Not Overly Impressed By Oliveira

After the biggest win of his life, Oliveira is being regarded by fans and critics alike as the real deal in the UFC lightweight division. But Hooker isn’t overly impressed with ‘Do Bronx’.

“I’m only one man, I only have my opinion. My opinion is that Charles Oliveira is still a pussy,” Hooker joked. “Nah, I’m just having a bit of a laugh. He’s just not – he’s a bit whatever to me. He didn’t do anything amazing. He just did some basic fundamental stuff to Tony Ferguson, and Tony Ferguson had no real answer for it. To me he just hadn’t been drilling his fundamentals for a while, and it’s a game of improving your fundamentals and working on them. That’s just the way I saw it. It’s not like I was so impressed with the amazing stuff that Charles Oliveira was doing.”

Title Shot

Despite not being totally impressed by Oliveira’s performance, Hooker does believe the 31 year old deserves to fight the winner of Dustin Poirier vs Conor McGregor rematch, which is scheduled for UFC 257 next month.

“He beat Tony,” Hooker said. “He beat Tony. If you beat Tony, I would say that leading up to that fight, before that fight is even booked, it’s like, whoever beats Tony Ferguson lines himself up for a title, and I would definitely rather see the winner of that fight for the winner of Conor-Poirier fight. You gotta have two guys who won fights fight for a title. You can’t have guys coming off losses fighting for the title. Gaethje thinks he can just sit around and get a title shot. You can’t come off a loss and fight for a world championship. To me, that’s just not how it works. You need to get back on the horse, get back on your win streak.”

Do you agree with Dan Hooker’s assessment of Tony Ferguson’s loss to Charles Oliveira at UFC 256?

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