Las Vegas, NV — Chase Hooper appeared to be on his way to a second consecutive loss Saturday, right up until a stunning comeback against Pete Barrett at UFC 256.
After being outclassed on the feet, Hooper (10-1-1) broke out a couple of Imanari rolls, instantly exciting the MMA faithful watching around the world. The rarely seen maneuver almost never happens twice in one fight. Hooper landed it both times, and used the second occurrence to set up the finish.
“My main thing was, I did not want to have a sore jaw after this one. Eating is my huge vice,” joked Hooper post-fight, promising he’d head back to the hotel and stuff his face.
Referencing grappling great Garry Tonon, Hooper went on to talk about the strain of being in the spotlight, while still developing as a fighter. “It’s so much pressure and so much stress to just get this opportunity for fifteen minutes to show what you’ve been working on for months,” Hooper stated. “It’s such a huge amount of pressure, but when it’s off and you’re able to be happy and have a win, it’s one of the craziest feelings ever.”
Hooper gets to experience that feeling now. It was touch and go for a while, however. “I knew I didn’t have it in the bag. But again, I’m kind of lazy, I don’t want to go the full fifteen if I didn’t have to,” Hooper admitted. “[Barrett] was doing really good with the takedown defense for my singles and my doubles. I’m going to go workshop that with Ben [Askren] when I get back, have him show me some stuff. But the Imanari stuff I felt like was working on him, so I threw it again.”
Hooper was clearly correct on that front. The Imanari roll made all the difference. “I was able to kind of hold him there, work myself into that position, and finish the heel hook. So I’m happy with it.”
What comes next for the 21-year old should be interesting. Hooper is both young in age and in the sport. “I always just take it fight by fight. The main thing is, my body is still going to be maturing for another, eight to ten years. Who knows how long,” he said. “So I’m really just trying to take it fight by fight, and obviously try to improve my skill set.”
That said, Hooper added that he’s getting more comfortable with the pressure. “I walked out there like it was nothing, and the whole fight I felt like I was there mentally. I was able to kind of see what was going on, and not just have it be a blur, not just have it on auto-pilot.”
Asked if he’d heard from “dad” Ben Askren after the fight, Hooper also admitted that “I put my phone on airplane mode. I didn’t want to see any of the mean comments if I got beat up.”
Watch the full UFC 256 post-fight press conference with Chase Hooper above.