Grant Dawson may still consider former interim UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson a big name opponent as he searches for his next potential booking, but don’t tell that to Dan Hooker. The ‘Hangman’ is getting set for a bout against Jalin Turner at UFC 290 this weekend, a re-booking of a fight originally planned for UFC 285 back in March.
Heading into that bout, Hooker suffered a broken hand, and was forced to withdraw. As he started to ease his way back into training, however, he also started looking at who else might be out there for his next matchup. Would it be Turner again? Or possibly another fighter higher up in the lightweight rankings?
Dan Hooker was appalled by Tony Ferguson fight idea
On a recent interview with Submission Radio, Hooker recalled speaking to his manager with an idea of a potential top contender’s bout that they could shoot at getting. When his manager gave him the idea he’d been working on instead, it sounds like Hooker hit the ceiling.
“Well, obviously I broke my hand, and then I was getting back into training, easing back into training. And then someone fought. And I was like, ‘Whoa!’ Asked my manager, Ash—I go, ‘What about this guy? You know, like a top contender?’ Can’t remember who it was. I messaged Ash, ‘Oh, what about this guy for the next fight?’ And he replied, ‘We asked for Tony Ferguson.’ I was so f—king offended.
Hooker was so offended, in fact that he threw himself back into training well before the recommended rehab period for his broken hand. Hopefully that decision won’t cause him any problems for his upcoming re-booking against Turner.
“That sparked me. I was like, ‘Nah, fuck this,'” Hooker recalled. “The doctors were saying, ‘You gotta wait another month for your hand before you can get back into the training.’ I said, ‘F—k that.’ And I went and sparred the next day, cause I was so offended. I was like, that guy… that’s not what I wanna be, that’s not what I’m here for.”
Dan Hooker doesn’t want to fight veterans on their way out
Unfortunately for most MMA fighters, the point when their name recognition and marketability can reach its peak, is often after their physical skills have already started to slide. Jorge Masvidal became a household name and title contender at age 35, 17-years after making his MMA debut. Conor McGregor had one of his biggest selling PPV matches in 2021, five years after dropping the lightweight title. Jon Jones looks like he’s as big a star as ever, at 35, despite years of public scandal and inactivity.
It’s not hard then to see why a fighter like Dawson would consider an opportunity to take on veteran talents like Tony Ferguson as a big deal. But for Hooker, those kinds of fights represent something he just doesn’t want to be a part of.
“I’m not here to have the veteran vs. veteran fights, I’m here to be the best. I’m here to challenge myself against the best guys in the world. So that, I would say, was the spark for this. I jumped straight back into training. I got as fit as I’ve ever been, and it was like a real turning point. That’s just not something I’m interested in, is fighting people not of that elite, or guys that—as soon as you come out and you say retirement, like, you’ve lost my interest.”
“Some of the other guys, like RDA said, ‘Yeah, I don’t really have title hopes anymore,’ or ‘Da da.’ I just want to derail some contenders. I was like, ‘I wanna fight title contenders.’ Like, that’s what I’m here for. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, is trying to be the best.”
UFC 290 takes place this Saturday, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The card is set to be headlined by featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski taking on interim champ Yair Rodriguez. Brandon Moreno will defend the flyweight title against Alexandre Pantoja in the co-main event.
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