Welcome to the UFC Entwistle, Hooker, Johnson, & Matthews

Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Two new fights featuring four new fighters have been added to the UFC's upcoming trip to New Zealand. All four look to be additions to the lightweight division.

Did the UFC run a season of TUF and just not tell anyone? That's kind of what it feels like with the announcement that they've added another four new lightweights to the promotion for their first trip to Auckland. Fight announcements have been coming in fast and furious. The MMA Corner was first to announce the matchup of Phuket Top Team's Ian Entwistle, who will face off against newcomer Dan Hooker in his first fight. The second announced bout, reported by MMA Fighting will pit Dashon Johnson against Jake Matthews. So, let's take a look at all the new fighters.

*UPDATE: The bout between Entwistle and Hooker was apparently misreported. The MMA Corner now reports that Entwistle is slated to debut at FW on the same card, but will not be facing Hooker.

Who is Ian Entwistle?

Currently training out of Phuket Top Team alongside the likes of Andrew Leone, Jumabieke Tuerxun and others, England's Ian Entwistle will enter the UFC with an 8-1 record at 27-years of age. It's a nice record on paper, especially with every one of his wins coming inside the first round, but outside of his vicotory over Michael Bowman, there's very little depth to it. Still, if he's facing green competition, it's best to see that he's winning quickly, it just means that it's hard to be sure if all his regional skill will translate against better competition.

What you should expect:

Expect leg locks. Entwistle is another in the recent list of flashy grapplers to pick up a UFC contract. Entwistle comes from the school of thought that says "Why try standup, when you can go for a flying scissor heel hook to start every round?" What little I've seen of his striking consists of leg kicks thrown again and again, with little regard for timing or setup. It's a confidence, no doubt bred from submission prowess and the fact that Entwistle has been able to legitimately blow through most of his opposition. His loss to Wheeler showed that (at least as of a few years ago) he could be kept at bay by a solid top game and clinch control. But it's been some time since his last loss.

Who is Dan Hooker?

Dan "The Hangman" Hooker is the 24-year old product of Strike Force Aukland. It's a gym that has produced a number of decent regional vets, especially for organizations like Legend FC, but Hooker will be the first to reach a stage as large as the UFC. He comes to the UFC with a 10-4 record containing a nice split of submissions and TKOs. It's not the deepest record however, with a win over Nick Patterson representing his high water mark. Apart from Rob Lisita, the level of competition in his losses hasn't been great either. But, he is on a five fight win streak, and hasn't lost since early 2012, so it's very possible he's improved quite a lot in the past couple of years. He also has a pretty extensive kickboxing background with a record of 14-5 as of last year.

What you should expect:

The first and most obvious answer is some kickboxing. Hooker is a decent offensive fighter, at least with the bigger gloves, and a solid infighter. But he's not defensively sharp and shows a propensity for getting tagged up. Unfortunately for him, as well, his infighting kickboxing style doesn't necessarily translate that well to MMA, where his lack of a wrestling base puts him at risk to be taken down. He has a good clinch when he gets the chance to use it, and strikes well in combination and with power, he even has some alright grappling chops. Footage from a 2009 NZ grappling tourney suggest he's been working on all the areas of his game for a while. But wrestling is really MMA glue, and without that piece he sort of has two distinct skills that don't particularly connect. So much so that he's taken to rushing fighters to the mat in more recent performances.

What this means for their debut:

As Hooker and Entwistle are facing off, it only makes sense to talk about them together, and how they matchup. The truth is, that while Hooker is almost undoubtbly the superior striker, I have severe reservations about a fighter with his skill set against an ultra agressive submission grappler. If his base were more solid, I would probably pick him to be able to dictate range and control from top position, but as it is he's a decently skilled fighter who will probably have a knee injury to tend to come June 28th.

Who is Dashon Johnson?

Dashon "Fly Boy" Johnson is a 26-year old undefeated prospect, fighting out of Team Xplode MMA, where he trains alongside Robbie Peralta, and Derek Anderson. Johnson has been a professional boxer since 2008, amassing a record of 15-15-3. His pro MMA career didn't get underway until 2012, but he's already put together a strong looking undefeated streak, and will enter the UFC at 9-0, with eight first round stoppages and even three submissions. I say strong looking because, quite honestly, Johnson may have the worst undefeated record I have ever seen in MMA. His opponents combined record is 13-39, and twelve of those wins are held by one fighter, who took Johnson to a split decision. He has two fights against an opponent with an 0-11 record. The reality is, that as a former pro boxer, his MMA career is being managed like a boxing career. The UFC may be a very rude wakeup call.

What you should expect:

When not fighting total cans (or one time, as it were) Johnson does display that he has some decent power and speed. His boxing training means that his straight punches are fast, crisp, powerful, and come with technique. But his footwork and movement leave a lot to be desired, and he tends to throw some big, sloppy "MMA hooks" on the outside. He's obviously worked to chain his wrestling to his striking, and shoots with some authority off his strikes. But his wrestling is more based on athletic prowess than technical skill and he often tries to just hulk his opponents around.

Because he's been fighting the lowest levels of competition he also has a few bad habits gained through overconfidence. He tends to be far too relaxed on the outside, where better opponents could still surprise him and he often throws wild, sloppy techniques around in the cage with the expectation that his superior athletic ability will carry him through. Johnson has a lot of raw tools to be a good fighter, but the competition hes found so far have probably hindered his development more than helped it.

Who is Jake Matthews?

TUF Nations competitor, 19-year old Jake Matthews will be making his debut following his opening round reality show exit in a unanimous decision loss to eventual finalist Olivier Aubin-Mercier. The Nexus Gracie Jiu Jitsu product will enter the UFC with a 5-0 record. He's coming from a pretty small camp, and his record is about what you would expect for a fighter through five fights. A lot of middling regional competition, low on experience with a decent split of wins and losses. 

What you should expect:

Watching Matthews fight, he mixes well between snapping front kicks and rangy hooks and jabs on the outside. He's not quite as active as he might be, but that's a pretty common problem for young fighters. He moves well, and doesn't get himself out of position on strikes, but does tend to go straight back when getting out of range, something aggressive fighters will take advantage of. From his back he's reasonably aggressive, although at this stage perhaps more as a way of creating space than meaningful sub attempts. He does have a willingness to pull guard that can make his lack of a high octane submission offense problematic. His takedown game could use some rounding out as well, as he has trouble shifting off a stuffed shot.

Eventually Matthews just looks raw. His striking is decent and well mixed, but his defense and offense lack consistency. His wrestling is really under-developed and he has big problems with pulling opponents on top of himself. He has some good, scrambling Jiu Jitsu which he chains well, but even that needs time to get really dangerous.

What this means for their debut:

As with the previous two fighters, it's worth talking about Johnson and Matthews together as they will face off in their UFC debuts. As strange as it sounds, this fight will probably be competitive. Both fighters are raw, Matthews moves better and has a more complicated standup game, but Johnson probably has more power and uses his offensive wrestling better. That wouldn't mean much (Johnson's wrestling isn't great) but Matthews' habit of pulling guard could create problems. Eventually I'd still bet on Matthews, he has the much more complicated and well rounded skill set, but I wouldn't be suprised if he had a lot of trouble getting the win.

To get us better acquainted, here's Ian Entwistle's last fight against Liam James at Cage Warriors 62:

And Dan Hooker's fight against Sihle Khuboni:

And Dashon Johnson's most recent fight against Jordan Delano:

And finally, Jake Matthews' bout against Dean Purdon:

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