Hooker dominates Iaquinta, calls out Poirier

Dan 'the Hangman' Hooker put on arguably his finest performance today as he dominated hardened UFC veteran Al Iaquinta in the co-main event of the historic UFC 243 event in Melbourne, bloodying the face of 'Raging Al' on the way to a clear unanimous decision victory.

Hooker is sure to climb the rankings after handily defeating #6 ranked Al Iaquinta. Hooker is currently ranked at #15 in the official UFC lightweight rankings.

Round 1.

Hooker takes the centre, Iaquinta circling outside the double black lines. Hooker with a leg kick which lands. Al whiffs an overhand right, Hooker with a hard calf kick. Al is jabbing and feinting. Al fakes the takedown and unloads upstairs, with Hooker landing a hard leg kick in return. They trade jabs, with Hooker holding centre ring. Hooker lands another calf kick; gets clipped by Al in reply. Al again fakes the single leg and swings punches. Hooker lands another calf kick. Hooker lands a pair of hooks, Iaquinta catches the kick and goes for the single leg. Hooker defends well, unloading hard elbows against the fence to the head of Iaquinta. Hooker takes top position and briefly looks for a guillotine. They scramble and Hooker takes the back and locks up a body triangle. The hand fight battle ensues. Iaquinta slowing things down, Hooker loses the body triangle but recovers both hooks. 1 minute to go. Iaquinta trying to catch hooker crossing his ankles but Hooker is aware. They scramble and it's standing once again. Hooker lands yet another stinging calf kick. The next one sends Al to the canvas. Iaquinta slinging upstairs but Hooker has his timing, landing another leg kick. Hooker glances a headkick off the guard right before the bell. 10-9 Hooker.

Round 2.

Iaquinta takes the offensive but is countered quickly by Hooker who takes the centre and lands another leg kick. Iaquinta again fakes the shot but Hooker defends. Hooker using his range well to pepper shots upstairs and land a leg kick on the end. Hooker pawing with the jab, Iaquinta shelling up. A lazy left hook lands for Hooker, Iaquinta whiffs a headkick. Hooker with another lead keg calf kick, and another which puts Iaquinta on the mat. He switches to southpaw as he stands back up, and tries for an ankle pick but Hooker easily dodges it. Iaquinta flurries forward but is caught by Hooker's counterpunch, but then lands a few clean blows of his own. Hooker digs a body kick as Al throws punches. They trade left hooks but Hooker's is more impactful. Iaquinta comes forward again but Hooker lands another calf kick; Al is back to southpaw. Level changing combo from Hooker and Al goes for the single leg, but Hooker defends well. They scramble against the fence. 1 minute to go and Hooker has his hands clasped behind Al against the fence. They separate and Hooker lands a big right hand on the break. And another HUGE right hand crumples Iaquinta to the canvas. Hooker follows him down into half guard and unloads some ground and pound. Iaquinta rolls and attempts a heel hook before the bell but it's too late. 10-9 Hooker.

Round 3.

They touch gloves, and exchange blows, with Hooker again looking to land his right hand with power. Hooker in centre ring, lands another lead leg calf kick. They exchange punches, Hooker clangs a headkick off the guard of Iaquinta. Iaquinta wary of the leg kick now. Double jab from Hooker. Iaquinta lunging forth with punches but Hooker uses his range well, landing an elbow to the face. Al whiffs a big right hand, follows with a body kick which is countered by a 2-punch combo upstairs from Hooker. They trade right hands, Hooker lands the jab. Iaquinta's face is a mask of blood leaking from his nose. Hooker fakes low to clang another headkick into Iaquinta's guard. Iaquinta knows he's behind and advances looking for openings. Hooker cracks a stiff jab to his nose. Iaquinta is biting on the feints and Hooker is calmly picking his shots, lands another leg kick. Low straight from Hooker is countered by a hook from Iaquinta. 1 minute to go and Iaquinta is advancing like a berserker. He knows he needs the finish as his corner screams it to him. Hooker calmly parrying and delivers another crippling calf kick which again sends Iaquinta to the canvas. Hooker jabbing off the back foot into the bloodied face of Iaquinta as the final buzzer sounds. 10-9 Hooker.

Result: Dan Hooker defeats Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision. 30-27, 30-27, 30-26.

After his victory he called out his next opponent: "Dustin Poirier! I'm gonna smash your face in! Meet me in New Zealand. 2020! I'm gonna end you!"

These kind of call-outs are the ones that the UFC historically likes. #2 ranked Poirier needs an opponent after losing to champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on September 7th. Let's hope the UFC make it happen.

Written by Harry Greenfield

Harry Greenfield is New Zealand Fighter’s Executive Editor. Residing in Christchurch, he has a passion for combat sports, especially MMA, and is our man on the scene down south.

Promoters wishing to contact Harry can reach him at: harry@nzfighter.co.nz