UFC San Antonio: Dan Hooker Discusses Lessons Learned from Barboza Loss

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Dan Hooker heads into UFC San Antonio with his head held high after his one-sided loss to Edson Barboza, discussing how he’s been able to bounce back from defeat.

San Antonio, TX – Dan Hooker has a big fight ahead of him at UFC San Antonio after a brutal loss to Edson Barboza snapped a four-fight win streak in the lightweight division. Now he’ll take on a fellow tall striker in James Vick in his first fight in seven months.

“That’s the longest layoff I’ve had in my entire life. Even when I started training, I made my professional debut six months after starting training. I’ve just been fighting back to back. MMA, kickboxing, anything. That’s the longest layoff I’ve had in my life. There’s been a little time for reflection on how far I’ve come and what I have left. I’m more motivated than I’ve been in my entire career.”

In Hooker’s last fight, he took a ton of damage at the hands of one of the best strikers in the UFC, Edson Barboza. Despite the one-sided nature of the affair, “Hangman” was not stopped until halfway through the third round and was subsequently praised for her toughness.

“That’s something I’ve always known. It’s something that’s come up a few times in my career. I definitely knew that I had it in me and I knew pretty early on in the fight. It was a pact I made with myself a long time ago that I can get knocked out, I can get submitted, I can get finished, I can live with that. It’s obviously still painful, but quitting on myself is something that I just can’t live with. So that’s why I had to keep going.”

Hooker added that there were many times he could have decided to put a stop to the damage.

“It wasn’t a difficult decision for me. It is what it is. It wasn’t at any stage that I second-guessed or looked for a way out. Very easily I could have ended that fight. As a veteran, you’ve been put in those positions. You know the things like when the doctor is waving the stick in front of you, all you have to do is not look at the stick. It’s simple as looking straight ahead and the fight is over. I’m a veteran, I’m very experienced. I knew I could’ve stopped that fight very easily. No one would have said anything, no one would’ve known any different, but I would’ve known, and that’s the main thing.”

Dan Hooker is seen as one of the more analytical fighters out there, posting his breakdowns of fights on YouTube among other media. However, he says this may have become a detriment.

“Learning from my experiences, I’ve taken more of a step back in this fight and had my coaches there and trusted in the work they do. Overanalyzing isn’t something that I’ve done I’ll just let my coaches do all the hard work and breaking him down. I’m just going to go out there, enjoy myself, and fight.”

That style of thinking does have its benefits, though.

“It’s good when it comes to coaching. I’ve got my own fighters, my own gym and it’s very good when it comes to coaching. But there are times when you have to take your coaching hat off and just have your fighting hat on and just go out there and fight and enjoy yourself. Fighters fight and it’s the coaches’ job to do all the hard work and analyzing and things like that. That’s something I picked up from that last fight.”

Hooker was cruising through the lightweight division after moving up from featherweight, stopping Ross Pearson, Gilbert Burns, Marc Diakiese, and Jim Miller. That impressive run put him on the brink of contendership, and he feels that isn’t far away still.

“I feel like a win over Vick puts me back where I left off. This isn’t just a fight to put me back on the road. This puts me where I left off. It’s one fight to turn it all around then look for a higher-ranked fighter. It’s exciting to turn it all around on one fight.”

A loss like the one Hooker suffered against Barboza could send fighters to the drawing board for a while. For the New Zealander, he got right back to work and learned what he had to learn to continue developing.

“I was back to training pretty soon after that. I was coaching at my gym a week after, and I was back training a few weeks after that, just working on technique and on my skills. No one’s more honest with themselves than me after anything. I don’t take any one lesson from it. It’s not like I put it down to one thing. I learned 10, 15 things, and I changed all of them. It’s that every time. This ain’t my first ass-whooping and it ain’t going to be my last one. I’ve taken a lot of hard losses in my career. Pretty much, if there’s a hard way to do it, I’ll find it and I’ll do it a couple of times. They’re not even new lessons, I’m just re-learning old lessons, but it’s all to build me to the fighter I envision in my head and where my direction’s going. I don’t feel I’m the complete version of myself yet and the fighter that I’m developing into. I feel like I’m still a way from becoming that complete fighter.”

Check out the rest of Dan Hooker’s UFC San Antonio Media Day scrum above.

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