Aside from a third-round knockout loss to Edson Barboza last December, Dan Hooker has been tormenting the lightweight division for quite some time.
Hooker’s ascent up the 155-pound ladder continued on Saturday night, as he bested durable veteran Al Iaquinta over three rounds, winning a lopsided and rather easy unanimous decision. Hooker (19-8) moved well, outstruck his foe and prevented Iaquinta from ever finding a rhythm in their UFC 243 co-main event duel in Melbourne, Australia.
Many MMA experts picked Iaquinta to win and for good reason; his only recent setbacks were to current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov -- where he took “The Eagle” the distance – and a five-round decision loss to fan favorite Donald Cerrone. But inside Docklands Stadium, Hooker did whatever he wanted.
“It was a dominant performance,” Hooker said after his hand was raised in front of a UFC record crowd of 57,127. “Man, he’s a tough guy. Credit to him. He took shots that would have put out a lot of guys.”
Iaquinta (14-6-1) never stopped trying to get things going and ever gave up, no matter how far behind on the cards he was. He landed his fair share of strikes, but was never able to hurt “The Hangman” or put him in any sort of peril.
“There was no point over the fight that I was in any trouble,” he said. “I’m very happy with the performance. Before the fight, he was saying we were just two tough guys, but he was going to prove he’s the better fighter. So, I had a chip on my shoulder. So instead of out-toughing him, I out-classed him.”
Once Hooker was done speaking about Iaquinta, his focus was directed at another fighter he’s overly find of.
“Dustin Poirier, I’m going to smash your face in,” he declared. “Meet me in New Zealand in 2020. I’m going to end you.”
Oftentimes a victorious fighter is reluctant to call out a future opponent following a victory. Not Hooker. He knows how the game is played and the more you talk, the more you win and create a demand for a matchup, the more likely it is you’ll get what you want.
“I’m a hunter and I’m not ashamed to ask for fights,” he said. “I deserve to be in there with the best. I have teammates fighting for titles and I’m hungry. I want to fight for the title. Dustin’s the quickest route to the title.”
Poirer, however, doesn’t appear to be as interested in facing Hooker, as he still appears to have his sights set on a rematch with Conor McGregor.
I'm fighting the Irishman next. You're close but not yet buddy keep punching @danthehangman— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) October 6, 2019
Dan can fight Cowboy... I'm chilling out until something really excites me. Working on my craft— The Diamond (@DustinPoirier) October 6, 2019