Chase Hooper made a successful debut at UFC 245, and feels his developmental deal with the promotion, which he fought under for the past year and a half, helped get him here.
Las Vegas, NV — Owner of a developmental deal after appearing on Dana White’s Contender Series as a teenager in 2018, Chase Hooper made his octagon debut at UFC 245. His first assignment on the big stage, a former Cage Warriors champion in Poland’s Oskar Piechota.
Hooper made the most of it, earning a first round TKO after being in trouble early. Now twenty, the Washington-based prospect improved to 9-0-1 with the win.
“I thought I’d be more nervous, but once the walkout started, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was having a good time, and excited to get out there and show off my skills,” he told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight.
His skills were clearly a step above on the ground, where Hooper soon had the upper hand on his opponent. Those skills were further sharpened thanks to a development deal earned on the Contender Series last year.
Despite winning his fight on the series, Hooper was essentially signed by the promotion, but continued fighting on the regional scene, rather than rushing him to the big show. Asked about whether he felt the delay was justified, Hooper answered that “I think it was 100% necessary. I don’t think I was ready, with what I know now right after Contender [Series].”
“I definitely needed that little bit of extra time to kind of mature, for puberty to set in and all that,” he joked. “Now I’ve got to shave once a week compared to like once a month.”
Humor aside, the young fighter admitted that he’s “starting to grow into my body, and I’m starting to get a better mind for fighting, and my skill set’s going up and all that.”
The development deal, Hooper explained, added a few twists, and earned him some experience points. For starters, “I had a target on my back, because everybody else knows I’m on the developmental deal.”
Instead of cutting weight close to home, he was dealing with a three-hour time difference, as his fights came on the east coast. “Dealing with cutting weight there, all the media stuff I had to do, like flying out a week early and all that — it just gave me the time and gave me the exposure for stuff like this.”
At the very least, the foundation has been laid for Hooper to be a future star in the promotion, should he continue to develop. He certainly has the personality for it.
Despite dropping the ‘Teenage Dream’ nickname now that he’s hit the ripe old age of twenty, Hooper, now using just ‘Dream,’ joked “if Reebok wants to make some Teenage Dream tanks, I’m down. I’ll go back.”
And yes, he was really going out to get M&Ms to celebrate his big win. He first announced that plan in the cage following his win. “That’s like my vice, caffeine and sugar. I figure I’ll kind of stay away from most of the other stuff for now at least.”
Watch the full UFC 245 post-fight press scrum with Chase Hooper above!