UFC – Dan Hooker Calls Out Justin Gaethje: That’s The Fight I Want

UFC lightweight contender Dan Hooker is one hundred percent sure he wants his next fight to be against the division’s most recent title challenger, Justin Gaethje.

Since moving up to lightweight in 2017, Hooker has racked up seven wins in nine fights, with five finishes. His most recent fight was a five-round war against former interim champion Dustin Poirier at UFC Vegas 4. Although he lost via a unanimous decision, the battle earned him a Fight of the Night bonus.

Hooker, who is in fifth place in the UFC lightweight rankings, wants to return to winning ways and has his eyes fixed on Gaethje, who is also coming off a loss against the reigning champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 254. With both fighters coming off a loss, the fight makes sense. However, Michael Chandler’s entry into the mix could throw a spanner in the works for the New Zealander.

Lost Interest In Chandler

Speaking to MMA Junkie, Hooker revealed that he was initially interested in fighting Chandler. But by turning down the fight against Tony Ferguson at UFC 256, the former Bellator champion lost his appeal in the eyes of ‘The Hangman’, who has now turned his attention towards Gaethje.

“Hands down, I want the Gaethje fight,” Hooker said. “Just to me, as a fan of the sport, watching it from the outside, having Chandler turn down the Ferguson opportunity in December kind of takes away a lot of that gung-ho mystique off of him. He was coming into the UFC from another organisation saying, ‘I’ll fight anyone, I’m ready to go, I’m ready to step in for the title.’ He stands on the scale and essentially makes weight and that rules him out of a fight against Tony Ferguson which, you beat Tony Ferguson, you pretty much position yourself as that next guy in line for a title shot.

“For him to turn down that opportunity because he stepped on a scale and made weight, like how tough is it for this guy to make weight? For me, it’s not a difficult thing. Making weight for me is fairly straightforward, fairly easy. So that, to me, kinda takes a lot of the mystique off the guy. Him saying he’s ready to go, he’ll fight anyone, ‘Oh wait, I don’t want to fight Tony Ferguson.’ So even for me, fighting Chandler, it takes a lot of the hype that’s behind Chandler away, so it makes him less appealing to fight.”

Fighting Gaethje

With Dustin Poirier set to fight former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor at UFC 257 on January 23rd, and Tony Ferguson booked to fight Charles Oliveira at UFC 256 next month, Gaethje is the only fighter ranked above Hooker without a fight booked.

“One hundred percent Justin Gaethje,” Hooker said. “Whenever he wants to go, that’s the fight I want. I feel like Chandler has lost the mystique around him, so it’s that Gaethje fight. I feel like that’s the fight that lights a fire under me. You watch him fight, the way he fights, the way he knocks people out, the way he finishes different opponents and you can feel the threat so it makes it very easy to train for, when you’re fighting such a dangerous opponent like that.

“It makes it very easy to get in the gym, it makes it very easy to train hard. When you don’t prepare for a fighter like that, who’s as exciting as that, who’s as threatening and dangerous as that, then you gotta drag yourself to the gym. You gotta push yourself through the hard sessions. But a fighter like Justin Gaethje, that’s an exciting fight to me and that’s an exciting fight for the fans. There’s no way that fight doesn’t deliver.”

Earlier this week, Chandler took to Twitter to announce that he was starting his training camp, raising speculations that something might be cooking.

Also, the reigning champion Nurmagomedov revealed on Instagram that he will be meeting UFC president Dana White soon. ‘The Eagle’ announced his retirement after successfully defending his title against Gaethje at UFC 254, but Dana remains adamant that the undefeated 155lbs king will return. All eyes will be on the two when they meet.

The next few months promise to provide fireworks in the UFC lightweight division.

How do you see Justin Gaethje vs Dan Hooker playing out if it happens?

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