Hooker makes a comeback with vicious KO

Hooker makes a comeback with vicious KO

Last Saturday night in San Antonio, Texas, New Zealand fighter Dan "the Hangman" Hooker marked his territory in the talent-stacked UFC lightweight division with an emphatic first round KO of #15 ranked James Vick, earning himself a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus in the process.

The win announced to the world that Hooker is here to stay in the 155lb division, coming 7 months after a tough loss to power-kicking Brazilian Edson Barboza. During that fight, Hooker showed his toughness, enduring a savage beating to the body, lasting until the third round before folding before the iron shins of Barboza.

Walking out to a booing crowd last weekend, Hooker had pressure on him to perform in San Antonio. Hooker is tall for a lightweight at 6’0” but James Vick is even taller, standing at 6’3”. Vick is a Texas native and is known as a dynamic striker with a dangerous submission game, having only lost to the very tip of the spear in terms of ranked opponents.

The fight started with a feeling out process during which Hooker stalked Vick across the cage leading with low kicks. It was evident that when Vick backed up to create distance, he was doing so without his hands high. Hooker quickly read this habit and moved in with a beautiful fake – throwing the overhand right, he stepped through as Vick retreated, clobbering him from the southpaw stance with a left hook flush to the jaw on the follow-through.

As Vick crashed backwards to the canvas, Hooker swarmed atop him, laying some nasty ground-and-pound shots accurately on his chin to seal the victory before referee Kerry Hatley stepped in to stop the beatdown at 2:32 of the first round.

After his victory, Hooker was quick to charm the hostile crowd, drawing a cheer by stating: "I trained the hardest I've ever trained in my life for this fight, because I know you don't mess with Texas..."

Hooker also took his opportunity in front of the mic to announce his intention to fight in Australasia next, stating: "October 5th, my brother Israel Adesanya is fighting to unify the world title, and I need to be on that card. I demand to be on that card".

Backstage, Hooker elaborated upon his open-ended challenge, naming #6 ranked lightweight Al Iaquinta as a suitable opponent. "That name definitely stands out to me, yeah. Iaquinta October 5th. Meet me in Australia. Get him on a plane".

Iaquinta, coming off a recent loss to Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, was quick to accept the call-out, tweeting "I love it down under" in response to Hooker.

A fight between the two dynamic lightweight strikers promises to be an absolute slugfest; a clash of two styles. If Hooker can secure a win over Iaquinta, a title shot is surely only a win or two away.

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