Pre-fight Analysis

Arnold Allen vs. Dan Hooker – UFC Fight Night 204 Preview

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The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 204, which sees the highly-touted English prospect Arnold Allen (18-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) taking on the toughest and most experienced opponent of his career in fan favorite and lightweight veteran Dan Hooker (21-11 MMA, 11-7 UFC). The fight is pivotal for the careers of both men, with Allen drawing ever closer to a world championship fight and Hooker making his second run in the featherweight division after mixed success amongst the very best at lightweight.

Arnold Allen and Dan Hooker Square Off in A Featherweight Clash

Arnold Allen is featherweight’s dark horse. That might sound silly for a man who, in 8 fights with the promotion spanning 7 years, has secured a top 10 position for years (currently #7). But Allen has steadily built a resume of solid names, taking consistent and continued steps up in competition. And now all of a sudden, Allen is perhaps a single good performance away from fighting for the title.

He’s an archetypal next-generation fighter, specializing in the mixing of martial arts rather than a specific fighting style or dimension of combat. He’s proven his aptitude both with his striking and his grappling, but now, with Hooker, he has an opportunity to begin to build the only part of his resume that is sorely lacking: wins over big names.

With this move back down to featherweight, Dan Hooker has put himself in an interesting and potentially precarious position. With 18 fights inside the Octagon, Hooker has had an undeniable amount of success at lightweight; however, competitive but unsuccessful outings against names like Dustin Poirier and quick, brutal loses to Michael Chandler and Islam Makhachev have kept Hooker from fully penetrating the very elite at lightweight. These losses have ultimately kept “The Hangman” from a chance to fight for the belt. Hooker has had success at featherweight in the past too, but with a 3-3 record at that weight class in the UFC, Hooker is perhaps embodying his famous motto more than ever: burn the boats.

Arnold Allen vs. Dan Hooker – Head to Head

The clash of styles here is compelling. While Allen is a more than competent striker, Hooker is a specialist in this era. No part of his offensive arsenal is missing, using fists, kicks, elbows, knees and everything in between. While his defense is less than stellar, his chin has held up all but once (against the aforementioned Chandler) and Allen has rarely demonstrated the kind of power required to switch Hooker’s lights off, although he dropped the durable Sodiq Yusuff in his last outing multiple times.

Arnold Allen is at a massive size disadvantage. Hooker is 4 inches taller and has a 5.5-inch reach advantage, which is one hell of a boon for a fighter like Hooker whose best weapon is his range. Against Poirier, Hooker displayed a nuanced understanding of his range, at least for the first two rounds.

Allen must be looking to diversify his arsenal against Hooker, making his way onto the inside to mitigate Hooker’s length, and using his grappling repertoire to tire Hooker, who has shown a tendency to run out of steam in the later rounds of his fights. The weight cut to featherweight is a big one for ‘The Hangman’, and how that might affect his chin and cardio remains to be seen. There are very few at featherweight more technical and capable of exploiting those flaws than ‘Almighty’ Arnold Allen.

UFC London (UFC Fight Night 204) prelims start at 1 PM EST, and the entire card will be available on UFC Fight Pass. 

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images

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