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Dan Hooker says beating Islam Makhachev is the ‘next best thing’ to beating Khabib

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UFC 266: Hooker v Haqparast
Dan Hooker reacts following his victory over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

With Islam Makhachev often being compared to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Dan Hooker says beating the former at UFC 267 is the next best thing to beating ‘The Eagle’ himself.

Hooker, 31, will fight 30-year-old Makhachev at the upcoming UFC 267 PPV in Abu Dhabi just four weeks removed from his unanimous decision victory over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266.

‘The Hangman’ stepped in for an injured Rafael dos Anjos and can’t wait for the opportunity to prove himself against Makhachev on Oct. 30.

“If I could fight any lightweight on the face of the planet, it would be Khabib,” Hooker told MMA Fighting in a recent interview. “I want to see how I measure up with him. It’s no lie that Islam’s the next best thing.

“Beating Islam is the only opportunity you’re going to get to show what would have happened if you got in there with Khabib when he was champion. There’s a lot of exciting aspects about this fight. It’s just another one. I feel like it’s a perfect time for this fight to come together.”

Hooker also believes a win over the No. 5-ranked lightweight puts him right back into the mix for a title shot.

“Everyone’s putting him on a pedestal,” Hooker said of Makhachev, who trains under the tutelage of Nurmagomedov. “Every guy is showing a lot of respect for his abilities and making a lot of comparisons with Khabib. It will be a great opportunity. I feel like this is a massive fight. A win here puts you in title contention. That’s another thing that’s obviously exciting.”

UFC 267, which will feature Makhachev vs. Hooker on the main card, takes place on October 30 at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.