Former UFC lightweight interim champion Dustin Poirier narrowly outlasted Dan Hooker at UFC Fight Night
Former UFC lightweight interim champion Dustin Poirier narrowly outlasted Dan Hooker at UFC Fight Night Image Credit: USA Today

Dubai: In a ‘Fight of the Night’ performance in Las Vegas on Saturday night, former UFC lightweight interim champion Dustin Poirier narrowly outlasted Dan Hooker at the end of five punishing rounds to score a unanimous decision victory.

Both fighters traded 390 strikes, the most in the UFC’s lightweight history, with Poirier landing the marginally more significant strikes (155-153) to seal a 26th career win against a very dangerous and up-and-coming fighter.

The action took place in an empty UFC Apex. It was the fifth straight weekend that the UFC staged a fight card in Las Vegas and was the eighth card UFC has held since its return from a coronavirus-pandemic stoppage on May 9.

The UFC bandwagon now heads to ‘Fight Island’ in Abu Dhabi where it will stage a sequence of four fight nights on July 11, 15, 18 and 25.

Poirier was fighting for the first time since his defeat to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 nine months ago on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

That was the only loss that the Louisiana native, who is a key member of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, had suffered in his past eight fights. His most significant wins had come over current UFC interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje, former UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway and former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. This was also Poirier’s first fight since undergoing major hip surgery.

“It was a tough one, man,” said the 31-year-old American after Saturday night’s war.

“Dan came to fight. He’s a tough guy. He’s on the rise and really thought he was going to get passed me.

“He talked a lot of trash, like he was going to move forward and fight the champ — but I’m the champ. This is what I love to do. I put all the work in. I trust in my team, skill and work ethic.

“I came here, pulled another one out and had a few more rounds in me. That’s fighting. A fight isn’t a fight until there’s something to overcome. That’s what we did tonight.”

Former UFC lightweight interim champion Dustin Poirier narrowly outlasted Dan Hooker at UFC Fight Night
Dan Hooker gave his all against Dustin Poirier.

Sticking to his homework, Hooker was the more aggressive fighter during the opening two rounds landing a high volume of low leg kicks and punches to Poirier’s body and ended the second round with a blistering combination to really hurt his opponent, who later admitted that it was the hardest punishment that he took in the bout.

“It was pretty impressive how high and quick he got his hips up without telegraphing,” Poirier said.

Hooker attempted to maintain the momentum heading into the third round, but Poirier began to turn on the heat with some nasty combinations and, despite being on the receiving end of a takedown, managed to execute some deadly elbows from the bottom.

By the end of the round, both fighter’s faces were bloodied from the punishment that they had absorbed.

Poirier scored a takedown in the fourth and trapped Hooker in a leg ride hook while landing hard shots to the Kiwi’s face. Poirier would keep up the same pace in the fifth and final round as Hooker appeared to be running out of gas.

Hooker (20-9) sports a 7-2 UFC record since he moved up to lightweight in 2017. He trains at City Kickboxing in Auckland, New Zealand, with current UFC champions Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski.

The Performances of the Night went to UFC newcomer Kay Hansen, who defeated veteran Jinh Yu Frey via submission (armbar) in round three, while returning fighter Julian Erosa earned his share of the $50,000 bonus also via a submission over Sean Woodson in the final round.

Results

Dustin Poirier def. Dan Hooker via unanimous decision (48-47 x2, 48-46)

Mike Perry def. Mickey Gall via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)

Maurice Greene def. Gian Villante via submission (R3, 3:44)

Brendan Allen def. Kyle Daukaus via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)

Takashi Sato def. Jason Witt via first-round TKO (0:48)

Julian Erosa def. Sean Woodson via submission (R3, 2:44)

Khama Worthy def. Luis Pena via submission (R3, 2:53)

Boser def. Philipe Lins via first-round KO (2:41)

Kay Hansen def. Jinh Yu Frey via submission (R3, 2:26)

Youssef Zalal def. Jordan Griffin via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)