Dan Hooker avoids any injuries at UFC on ESPN 12, hopes to revisit Dustin Poirier fight one day

Dan Hooker avoids any injuries at UFC on ESPN 12, hopes to revisit Dustin Poirier fight one day

Despite spending 25 minutes in the cage with Dustin Poirier and exchanging nearly 400 strikes, Dan Hooker returned home to New Zealand without any serious injuries.

While he did take a trip to the hospital afterwards, Hooker says outside of the stitches needed to close a gash over his eye, he’s actually feeling great just a few days removed from a battle that’s being touted as a potential “Fight of the Year.”

“I actually feel real good,” Hooker told MMA Fighting. “My body’s not banged up at all surprisingly. I think I took 100 strikes on each of my eyes but besides my eyes, my head’s good, my body’s good.”

“Just stitches on my eyes. They did facial scans and nothing’s fractured, nothing broken. It’s hard to know at the time because everything swells up. As it’s come down I’m back to normal.”

That’s a miraculous diagnosis considering the kind of punishment Hooker and Poirier both absorbed over five rounds.

According to Hooker, he actually fell in love with the back-and-forth exchanges so much that he nearly abandoned his game plan to instead trade shots with Poirier until one of them fell down.

“I can see exactly what [Justin] Gaethje was on about when he said he was having too much fun in there with Dustin and got caught up in the fun of it,” Hooker said. “Because it sure was a damn good time. I did enjoy that fight.

“As grueling as it was and as hard as it was, it’s fights like that why I do this. It’s fights like that why I love competing in this sport. I’m taking it for what it is, good old fashioned fist fight and it was fun.”

In the second round, Hooker caught Poirier with a knee strike that the former interim lightweight champion later mentioned as a shot that actually put his lights out momentarily. Somehow, Poirier continued swinging punches through that exchange and never once hit the canvas due to strikes.

Hooker can proudly proclaim the same despite coming up short in the decision and even he marvels at the amount of damage he and Poirier took without one of them toppling over at some point during the fight.

“I was going back and watching it and we were just cracking each other on the chin,” Hooker said. “You know when you hit someone in the right spots, like I was ripping to the body and I landed punches right on the chin and he was doing the same thing. One of us would get carried away with too many punches and get clipped.

“I’m amazed there wasn’t even a knockdown in that fight. That’s ridiculous. If you add up the amount of significant strikes that were being thrown and being landed on each other. No one got a knockdown.”

Of course, Hooker would have much rather returned home with a win on his record but he really can’t complain too much given the adoration being shown for his fight this past Saturday night.

He may have come up short in the end but Hooker definitely gained quite a few fans following that kind of performance.

“You get caught up in the brawl, caught up in the fight of it. It is what it is,” Hooker said. “I’ll learn from it, I’ll make those improvements. Hopefully getting the win next time round.

“If I’m going to take a loss, that’s about as good as it gets.”

After the event was finished, Hooker and Poirier were both transported to a local medical facility for treatment. The lightweights ended up sitting just a few feet away from each other while waiting for a doctor to check them out.

Hooker says the conversation he shared with Poirier was nothing but respect, especially after they shared the cage together in such a memorable fight.

“There’s no confrontation when you spend 25 minutes throwing fists at each other,” Hooker said about running into Poirier at the hospital. “It’s hard to still be upset with each other. We’re both in the same boat, we understood what it was. To be honest, we just wished each other well. He’s got a young daughter, I’ve got a young daughter. We’ve got a lot in common. We’re both after the same thing. There’s a lot of mutual respect there. Just a sign of mutual respect more than conflict.

“It was more just that we had respect for each other. We pat each other on the back for a great fight. It takes two to tango. You can’t put on great fights like that by yourself. Just a bit of appreciation for each other.”

With the fight already being mentioned as one of the best of the year, Hooker understands the possibility that he could eventually see Poirier staring back across the cage from him again.

He’s not calling out Poirier or demanding a rematch by any means but Hooker would love the chance to share the octagon with him again if given the opportunity.

“I’m a fighter at heart,” Hooker explained. “Any loss that I have, just as a fighter, you would want to get that back but of course. I felt like it was a competitive matchup. I wasn’t getting out classed or anything like that. So I definitely would love to get that one back.”

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