Following Visa Snafu, UFC 266’s Dan Hooker Says Move to U.S. “Has to Happen”

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Las Vegas, NV — Dan Hooker arrived in Las Vegas about 7:30PM local time on Thursday. That didn’t give him much time to cut weight for his UFC 266 fight, with weigh-ins on Friday, but ever the professional, Hooker made weight.

The hold-up had been Hooker trying to secure his visa back home in New Zealand. His home country has implemented a lottery system for foreign travel, further complicating an already tedious process, and ensuring the ability to even leave the country is scarce.

Coincidentally, opponent Nasrat Haqparast had his own last-minute visa troubles, but both fighters managed to make it to Vegas on time. Barely.

In Hooker’s case, “The Hangman” got a little assist from the internet, as he tweeted out his frustration and urged New Zealand officials to expedite the process. Shortly after, Haqparast did the same. “This is comedy at this point,” Hooker said of the entire situation. “It was pretty funny to see him copy my playbook and post it up and get the social media behind him.” Hooker added he’s “one hundred percent confident that it got the job done for me, it got my my visa. I’m not sure what got him his visa, but it sure sped the process up.”

A rare win for social media.

Despite the last-minute nature of everything coming together, Hooker never considered changing the contracted weight of the fight. But the entire ordeal has made the lightweight decide to relocate stateside in future.

“Definitely. Definitely. We’ve definitely had the discussion as a team now,” said Hooker, who noted that even prior to his current visa troubles, several City Kickboxing members had considered relocation. “There’s a lot of different people who have been talking about it or thinking about it. I’ve definitely been thinking about it myself, making the move stateside. But now we’ve had the discussion as a team. Obviously it’s going to be left up to our coaches, it’s not a decision we’ll make, but it looks like me and the family, we’re moving stateside as a team. It just has to happen, you know what I mean? This last one was getting a bit crazy.”

Even his last fight, said Hooker, had hurdles, with a lockdown during training, “but this one takes the cake.”

Watch the full impromptu media scrum with Dan Hooker at the UFC 266 official weigh-in above. More coverage of the event can be found below.

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