UFC Milwaukee: Dan Hooker Welcomes Step Up In Competition Against Edson Barboza

0

Dan Hooker welcomes a step up in competition this weekend against Edson Barboza at UFC Milwaukee, and he’s happy to have earned it without the need to put on a fake persona.

Milwaukee, WI — Dan Hooker is getting a big step up in competition this weekend at UFC Milwaukee. The MMA powerhouse’s final show on the big FOX network, UFC on FOX 31 (for those keeping count) isn’t just a throwaway card as the UFC makes its exit, however. There are a number of key match-ups for the lightweight division in particular: five in fact, including the main and co-main events. Hooker is in the latter, taking on Edson Barboza.

A match-up with the dangerous Brazilian striker is just the sort of test the New Zealand native was looking for, mind you. At 17-7 and on a four fight winning streak, Hooker was yet to dip his toe into the top-15 of the weight class. Until now. Barboza is ranked fifth.

“This is the fight I’m looking for,” he told Cageside Press and other media outlets at Thursday’s media day for UFC Milwaukee. “To get an opportunity like this, my first fight in the rankings, first fight in the top fifteen, to then get the top five, might be considered the best striker in the UFC — this is exactly what I wanted.”

There’s some concern that the fight might have been overlooked, with the rematch between Kevin Lee and Al Iaquinta in the main event getting the bulk of the attention. That doesn’t concern Hooker in the least. “I’m happy, it doesn’t bother me at all,” he said, adding that “I think the real fans, this is going to be a treat for them. They know what they’re in for. They follow this very closely, and they know this is going to be a very high level match.”

Nor does Hooker intend to change who he is for the sake of standing out. “The higher you get up the rankings, the more people that want to listen. I’m not going to change me. I’m not going to change my personality. I’m just going to come out here, be myself, keep winning fights, and then all of that stuff just comes with it.”

“I’m not going to change my personality to attract more and more people,” he added. “It’s just not the way I see myself in the sport.” Fighters like Conor McGregor, and even Hooker’s own teammate Israel Adesanya, that’s just who they are, he suggested. The fans recognize that, just like they’d see through it if “I go out there and put on a persona and just do something fake.”

“For what my goals are, and that’s growing the sport of MMA in New Zealand and setting an example for the next generation of fighters,” he finished on the subject, “putting on a persona is not aligned with those goals.”

Dan Hooker faces Edson Barboza in the co-main event of UFC Milwaukee (UFC on FOX 31) at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this Saturday, December 15.

Leave a Reply