The Weight Cutting Chronicles — UFC Auckland: Hooker vs. Felder

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Dan Hooker Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

The UFC made the long trip to New Zealand this week, and on Friday, the UFC Auckland card would hit the scales ahead of fight night on Saturday.

Like it or not, weight-cutting is deeply rooted in mixed martial arts. MMA adopted its weight-cutting from the sport of wrestling, where it is presumed to be very advantageous to be the biggest and strongest in your weight class. Known as the ‘fight before the fight,’ most UFC fighters cut anywhere from 5-25 pounds, with some fighters even in excess of 30 pounds.

Weight-cutting is the ultimate test of discipline and willpower. Many fighters in the sport consider it very unprofessional to miss weight. In this series, we will shine a light on fighters who cut a massive amount of weight, who have missed weight multiple times in the past, who have made weight-class changes, along with how the weight-cut and weigh-in could affect possible upcoming match-ups. Basically, every aspect of weight-cutting and how it affects the fight game.

The headliners for the main event at UFC Auckland, Dan Hooker, and Paul Felder both are extremely tough men with difficult but ‘optimal’ weight cuts.

Dan “The Hangman” Hooker (19-8 MMA, 9-4 UFC)

Featherweight (145lbs): 3-3 (UFC)

Lightweight (155lbs): 6-1 (UFC)

Dan Hooker entered the UFC back in 2014 in the featherweight division.  ‘The Hangman’ stands at 6’0″ tall and possesses a 75.5″ reach. Hooker is a huge guy to be able to make 145lbs and even in order to make 155lbs. Dan’s lanky body type and lean muscle build is most comparable to a guy like Luis Pena, who is 6’3″ and possesses a 78″ reach, and has also fought in both the featherweight and lightweight divisions. Dan Hooker is known for his beautiful striking and being incredibly durable and very tough. Hooker has only been finished on time in the UFC and that came against Edson Barboza at lightweight in one of the single most brutal fights you’ll ever see. The amount of damage Hooker was able to sustain to the body and keep fighting was absolutely mind-boggling. Not only is that a credit to his toughness but credit to being in the right weight class, as with an excessive weight cut he wouldn’t be able to take that anywhere near as much damage.

Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder (17-4 MMA, 7-3 UFC)

Lightweight (155lbs): 7-2 (UFC)

Welterweight (170lbs): 0-1 (UFC)

Paul Felder stands at 5’11” and posses a 75″ reach and carries a good bit of muscle.  Felder is a real company man for the UFC and not only does he call fights, but he steps up on short notice to take fights that aren’t even in his weight class. This was the case with Felder’s first and only fight in the UFC’s welterweight division against Mike Perry in 2018. All this happened after Perry’s opponent, Yancy Medeiros, broke his rib shortly before the fight and was forced to pull out. Felder stepped in and fought the ultra dangerous knockout artist on short notice and even though he didn’t pick up the win, the pair put on a spectacular fight. Felder is known for his hard-hitting elbows, ferocity, and durability and it showed in that fight as well as every fight that he has had at lightweight. At 35 years old, the scale may not reflect it, as Felder has never missed weight, but the weight cut is definitely getting more difficult and will take more out of him as he continues to progress in his career. Felder absolutely has it mastered and at 155lbs. it seems he’s at his most comfortable weight to compete.

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