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Makhachev’s manager: Hooker is just ‘showing up for a payday,’ hoping for ‘lucky punch’ at UFC 267

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Manager Ali Abdelaziz doesn’t see Dan Hooker standing a chance against Islam Makhachev at UFC 267.

Fresh off his UFC 266 win over Nasrat Haqparast two and a half weeks ago, Dan Hooker decided to make a quick turnaround and fight Islam Makhachev at UFC 267. “The Hangman” replaced former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, who was forced to withdraw due to injury.

It was indeed a valiant effort on Hooker to step in on short notice the highly-touted Makhachev. But for manager Ali Abdelaziz, the Kiwi may only be in it for the payday.

“Much respect to Hooker, they can say whatever they want. He’s showing up for a payday, and I respect Hooker a lot,” Abdelaziz told MMA Junkie. “He’s a nice guy. I respect him as a fighter, too, but he can say whatever he wants, his coaches can say whatever they want, he’s getting paid to show up.

“The only way he can win is a lucky punch. Islam beats people every second of a fight. Islam is never vulnerable in a fight. People are going to say, ‘Oh, he’s boring, he’s this, he’s that.’ They said this about Khabib for a long time. Khabib is pound-for-pound the greatest fighter to ever live on this planet.”

Makhachev last fought in July against Thiago Moises, whom he submitted in the fourth round. He is now on an eight-fight win streak to secure a top-five spot in the rankings, but according to Abdelaziz, his fighter has barely scratched the surface.

“If I have to rank Islam today in the pound-for-pound list, I promise you he’s top five pound-for-pound. I believe he will be one of the greatest UFC fighters we’ve ever seen. I’ve been training with Islam for seven years,” he said.

“I see him beating DC (Daniel Cormier) around, beating Luke (Rockhold), giving Khabib his toughest rounds. I believe he’s something special. I believe he’s destined to be a world champion, and people can say whatever they want about him. They know in their heart and soul that he’s the toughest fight they can ever get.

“You have not seen relaxed Islam Makhachev yet. Little by little, he’s getting more relaxed and more loose. But I’m gonna tell you, loose Islam will beat some of the guys in the top five in the welterweight division, too, and he’ll beat some guys in the middleweight division, too. He is this good.”

UFC 267 happens on October 30 in Abu Dhabi. Headlining the event is the light heavyweight title fight between Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira. Right before it is the interim bantamweight title bout between Petr Yan and Cory Sandhagen.