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‘I’m closer to middleweight than I am to featherweight’ - Dan Hooker headed back to 155

It looks like the ‘Hangman’’s return to the 145 lb division was a short lived experiment.

Not long after leaving the UFC’s featherweight division for the first time Dan Hooker told reporters that it’d “take a million bucks” to get him to drop back down to 145 lbs. Instead, it took 5 years and a string of losses to the lightweight division’s elite.

Hooker returned to his former weight class earlier this year, taking on Arnold Allen at UFC London. The fight ended at just two minutes and 33 seconds of the first round. The first KO win for Arnold Allen since leaving Cage Warriors almost a decade ago. And, from the sound of things, a sudden final nail in the coffin for Hooker’s featherweight ambitions.

“Oh, fuck no, I couldn’t make 145 if I wanted to,” Hooker said when asked if would be taking another fight down at featherweight in a recent interview with Submission Radio.

“I’m closer to middleweight than I am to featherweight.”

“Yeah, nah like, I felt like I could’ve stayed at 145, but obviously a lot of sacrifice goes into that,” Hooker added. “But off of the result of the last fight, and then I feel like I’m in the exact same position at both weight classes. So why not? Why would I make the extra sacrifice? The extra sacrifice was to get me back in the same position that I was in. You know what I mean? But if I’m in the exact same position [relating to the title picture], I’d rather be in the exact same position and eating and having a slice of cake every now and then.”

“Put a fork in it, bud, I’m out of the conversation [at featherweight].”

While Hooker definitely sounds like he’s washing his hands of the idea of another drop in weight, he doesn’t blame the cut for his latest loss. To hear him tell it, the weight cut actually went fairly easy. At the moment, he’s in “shovel down mode,” taking some time off to relax and figure out his path forward. If he has anything to change for the future, it sounds like finding opportunities to fight closer to home, and staying more collected and technical in the cage are at the forefront of his mind.

“No, everyone is going to put it down to the weight cut or whatever. Obviously, everyone has excuses, but I take full responsibility for that fight, I take full responsibility for the recent run. Like, I don’t try and put that on anywhere else. Like, it only comes down to the manner in which I fought. That’s what it comes down to. It’s just one of those things. I got out there, got out back, started warming up, looked down at my hands, and I was just like, tonight’s one of those nights. Like, we’re going out there and we’re swinging. Like, we’re swinging big.”

“...And I know full well that I’m better than that. I know that if I fight technically and fight this and that, I’m better than that, and I’m good at outclassing opponents like that. Which is like the stupid thing about it, right? Like, hindsight is 20-20. Hindsight is perfect vision. So, when people say, ‘oh, you should’ve done this, should’ve done that,’ It’s like, well, now we’re here, now we’re here. I don’t have a time machine. Do you have one? Mine’s busted. You know what I mean? We’re stuck here.”

“To be honest, it was good. Weight cut was clean, I ticked all the boxes, did everything perfectly to a tee. Obviously difficult, because there’s a lot of sacrifice that goes into that, but nothing about that weight cut to me was difficult. Obviously it’s a far way away. Like, London’s a far way away, but I feel like anything you accept, that’s the terms of the fight when I accepted it. ... But going forward, going out and fighting like that is not fair to my training partners, it’s not fair to my coaches, it’s not fair to my family to go out and fight like that. To me, I enjoy it, and I know that risk, and roll the dice, let’s go, baby. But to all those people, I feel like they deserve better. Upon reflection of the last fight, I feel they deserve better going forward. They deserve me fighting the way that I know how to fight, which is being quite calculated. I feel like that’s where I do my best work, and that’s what I owe everyone around me.”

For their part, the UFC will be in Kallang, Singapore on June 11th, and back in the UAE for UFC 281 in October. No word yet on if they’re planning a return to Australia or New Zealand anytime in 2022. Whenever he does make his way back to the cage, Hooker expects he’ll be getting the toughest fight the UFC has to offer.

“You just look at the division and ask yourself, who don’t people want to fight? And that’s who I’ll probably end up fighting.”