MMA

Islam Makhachev vs Dan Hooker – UFC 267 Preview

|
Image for Islam Makhachev vs Dan Hooker – UFC 267 Preview

Fight Island is back, bigger and better than ever before. UFC 267 presents us with some of the most exciting fights of the year so far. Lightweight contenders Islam Makhachev and Dan Hooker go head-to-head on the main card this Saturday.

Islam Makhachev: A Potential Step Closer to The Title

A win on Saturday night for Makhachev would do him the world of wonders, as he faces the biggest test of his career so far. His resume doesn’t have the biggest names in the world, but he’s certainly outclassed the majority he’s faced in the 11 years he’s been involved in the sport.

His Combat Sambo skills are certainly his key to victory, not just in this fight for the Russian, but in every bout. He bides his time, striking it out with his opponent until he finds that split second where he can achieve the takedown and take control on top.

In his last two fights, Makhachev has showcased these skills on his return to the cage. He’s come away with two submissions over Drew Dober and Thiago Moises this year, after an 18-month hiatus from the cage.

Embed from Getty Images

Makhachev has been branded as the next coming of Khabib Nurmagomedov┬áby many stars inside and outside of the sport. He’s prepared and trained with the former lightweight champion ahead of the fight, as he always does. A statement from the Russian on Saturday night will edge him even closer to a shot at the belt.

Dan Hooker: The Heavy Underdog, But Undeservedly

“The Hangman” is a fan favorite, that’s for sure. Hooker was just in the cage last month, where he fought Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266. A dominating performance saw the New Zealander walk away with a victory via unanimous decision. Hooker vs Haqparast was on the end of everyone’s lips ahead of the fight, as the pair both struggled with visa issues, but sorted the problems with days to spare.

Hooker has displayed his skills in some fantastic fights over the years, winning Fight of the Night bonuses in the classic affairs against Paul Felder and Dustin Poirier. Ever since his move from featherweight, Hooker has proved to be one of the best fighters in the 155lb division.

Being the underdog was expected with the hype of Makhachev, but with Hooker’s odds at +440, putting him as this big of an underdog is shameful. Over his seven-year spell in the promotion, he has beaten the likes of Gilbert Burns, Jim Miller, Al Iaquinta, and Felder as mentioned before.

The man is game for anything, as he’s stayed away from New Zealand and his family the past month to avoid the quarantine rules. When Rafael Dos Anjos pulled out of the fight against Makhachev, the MMA world was calling out for Hooker to step up, and of course, he answered their prayers.

Fight Breakdown

Hooker is coming in as the underdog in this one, as Makhachev stands as a heavy favorite with his current odds at -650. This isn’t as predictable as it’s being played out to be, and Hooker is going out there to shock the world on Saturday night.

Hooker has to keep his distance to take control in this one. Long jabs, leg kicks, calf kicks, right hooks, and left hooks appear to be the only solutions to try and stop Makhachev’s A-game. Hooker needs to unleash his wrath from the get-go, hurt Makhachev early on, let him make a mistake, and capitalize on it.

Embed from Getty Images

Makhachev can utilize all of his skills in this fight, and probably finish the fight any way he desires. It would be wise to try and get Hooker down in the first round and dominate from there. If Makhachev does find the early takedown, the night could be over early for the New Zealander.

Loading
Loading...

What Could Be Next?

A victory for either man would probably be the biggest win of their careers so far. Whoever comes out victorious will certainly be one step closer to a title shot.

Makhachev sits cozy in the fifth spot in the lightweight rankings, with Hooker one place behind in 6th. Charles Oliveira and Poirier compete for the title on December 11th at UFC 269, with Justin Gaethje and Michael Chandler battling it out on the main card also.

These fighters are all ranked ahead of Makhachev and Hooker, so it leaves it pretty much impossible to see what could be next for the winner until after UFC 269. It should be clear neither of these two will fight for the title next, and they realistically would need at least another win to have a shot at the belt.

Featured Image
Embed from Getty Images

Share this article

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.