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Seeing Adesanya & Volkanovski win UFC titles ‘makes it very attainable for me’ says Dan Hooker

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“I have Alex Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya, walking around the gym with world title belts, and that makes it very attainable for me.”

Dan Hooker ahead of his fight with Paul Felder in February 2020. Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Dan Hooker has the privilege of training with world class talent at City Kickboxing in Auckland, New Zealand, where the surging UFC lightweight has got to see his longtime teammates and friends go on to capture UFC world titles.

Hooker says getting to train on a daily basis with the likes of Israel Adesanya (UFC middleweight champion) and Alexander Volkanovski (UFC featherweight champion), and seeing their success, has only helped to reinforce the idea that he, too, could one day become a world champion.

“Now I have two teammates, I have Alex Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya, walking around the gym with world title belts, and that makes it very attainable for me,” Hooker told MMA Junkie’s Farah Hannoun following his recent split decision victory over Paul Felder at UFC Fight Night 168. “I know what I’m capable of inside the gym and my results inside of the octagon. I know that I can compete and beat the best guys in the world, so I just need the opportunity. So now, No. 5, I’m working my way towards that belt. You’re putting yourself and you’re now jockeying for position for title contention, and title contention is the next goal that I’ve set myself.”

Unlike teammates Adesanya and Volkanovski, however, who both knew that they were destined for championship success, Hooker is willing to admit that he’s a realist and likes to take his career one step at a time.

“Me, like I’m a realist,” he said. “Israel Adesanya is known from day one that he was going to be world champion, he’s going to be headlining pay-per-views but me, it’s whatever I can see in front of me is the next biggest goal. As I achieve those goals, I set something else in front of me, so my progression has always been incremental and very slow.”

Hooker will face his toughest opponent to date when he takes on former interim lightweight titleholder and No. 12-ranked pound-for-pound talent Dustin Poirier in a proposed headlining lightweight bout at UFC San Diego. The Fight Night event is scheduled to take place on May 16 at Pechanga Arena in San Diego, California.