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Dan Hooker in danger of losing spot on UFC 266, goes public with travel visa request

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Hooker apparently has a meeting scheduled with the US embassy in New Zealand for Monday, September 20th, less than a week out from fight night.

Dan Hooker walks to the cage ahead of his UFC 257 bout against Michael Chandler.
Dan Hooker walks to the cage ahead of his UFC 257 bout against Michael Chandler.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

It looks like at least one bout on next week’s UFC 266 fight card is in real danger of getting canceled. Top ranked lightweight Dan Hooker is set to take on rising prospect Nasrat Haqparast on the prelims portion of the event. The fight seems primed to be an all-action war, but that’s only if the two men actually make it to the event.

And in Hooker’s case, the likelihood of that is hanging by a thread. The ‘Hangman’ recently took to social media to make a public plea with the US Embassy in New Zealand, in a last ditch attempt to speed up his visa process. It sounds as though recent COVID-19 lockdown measures in the country have slowed the ability of the Embassy to issue visas to traveling athletes. And with fight night just a little over a week away, things are getting a bit desperate.

Fortunately for the City Kickboxing talent, there appears to be at least a slim ray of hope. He may not have his visa approved yet, but in a recent interview with SiriusXM’s Fight Nation Hooker updated fans to announce that he has since booked an appointment with the Embassy for this coming Monday, September 20th. And if he’s able to walk away from that with his paperwork in hand, he’ll be just barely able to make the last flight out to be in time for the UFC PPV.

“Just me by myself, my own voice didn’t look like it was getting them to budge anything,” Hooker admitted. “So, I got MMA Twitter behind me, I got the people behind me, yeah? As I do when I need to get something done, is I get the people’s support behind me—which, they were awesome.”

“Seems like it’s had some sort of effect, because ... my flight is tomorrow. That is not gonna happen, because I have the visa appointment Monday, New Zealand time. So, that’s Sunday in the US. They said, ‘Absolutely no promises, come in for a visa appointment.’ If that does happen—which I have my fingers absolutely crossed that I get my visa approved Monday, which means I’ll probably get it back Tuesday.

“New Zealand, you can only fly out of the country either—there’s only flights tomorrow, which is Sunday, or Thursday. So, the plan going forward: go to my appointment Monday, get my visa Tuesday, fly out Thursday and arrive in the US. So, that’ll be arrive in the US Thursday, in Las Vegas Thursday, about 8pm Thursday. Weigh in Friday, fight Saturday. That’s the plan.”

UFC 266 is set to be headlined by a featherweight title bout between Alexander Volkanovski & Brian Ortega. A women’s flyweight title fight between Valentina Shevchenko & Lauren Murphy is set for the co-main event. A welterweight rematch between former UFC champ Robbie Lawler and former Strikeforce champ Nick Diaz has also been scheduled for the card. The two men first fought at UFC 47 back in 2004. And if everything goes well, fans will be treated to Dan Hooker’s lightweight bout against Nasrat Haqparast earlier in the evening. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for all news and updates as they happen.