Dan Hooker Says Fans Will See a Different Version of ‘The Hangman’ at UFC 281; ‘I Feel Like I Fixed Everything’

Dan Hooker believes he has made the appropriate adjustments to fix the holes in his game and get back into the win colum at UFC 281 this weekend.

Dan Hooker
Dan Hooker

Dan Hooker says he will be a different fighter when he steps back into the Octagon at UFC 281 this Saturday night. 

Emanating from the world-famous Madison Square Garden in New York City, ‘The Hangman’ will look to get back to his winning ways against streaking lightweight Claudio Puelles. Debuting for the promotion in 2014, Hooker alternated wins and losses before catching fire, going 7-1 between 2017 and 2020. Since then, Hooker has hit a skid, dropping four of his last five outings, though those losses came against top lightweight stars including Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler, and the lightweight champion, Islam Makhachev.

Appearing on ‘The MMA Hour‘ with Ariel Helwani, Dan Hooker discussed his recent struggles inside the Octagon but believes he has taken the appropriate steps to fix the holes in his game and get back into the win column at MSG this weekend.

“I’m just excited because I know the place that I’m in right now and it’s an incredibly good place. I don’t feel like I’ve tried to cover anything up or hide from anything. I feel like I’ve faced everything and I feel like I fixed everything. I feel like all the holes in my game, where they were. As I said in the interview [with Submission Radio], I feel like I was… Those were things that were covered up by incredible training and phenomenal coaching. 

“My team is so good and my coaches are so good and our training and preparation leading up to that was so good that those holes in my game were being covered by that. Obviously with the restrictions of COVID and being away from your coaches and away from your team, then those holes shone through. Those holes in your game shone through. It was a good experience to take the time to realize those things and fix those problems.”

Dan Hooker on the Pressure to Perform After A Rough Couple of Years

Discussing his upcoming return to the lightweight division against Claudio Puelles, Dan Hooker shared his thoughts on the pressure to perform after a tumultuous couple of years inside the Octagon. Particularly in a situation where he could lose his spot in the UFC’s lightweight ranking on Saturday night. 

“That just comes with performing at your best. It’s not like I have to go out there and prove anything to anyone. I’m not really thinking about that. I’m focusing on myself and I’m focusing on my performance and whatever comes with that will come with that. It’s just a byproduct of performing at your best capabilities.”

Puelles is currently on the outside of the top-15 rankings looking in, but a win over Dan Hooker on Saturday night would likely thrust him into the No. 12 spot where ‘The Hangman’ currently resides. Since a loss in his UFC debut, the ‘Prince of Peru’ has rattled off five straight victories, most recently defeating tenured UFC icon Clay Guida via first-round submission in April. 

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