Saturday night’s main event clash between Dustin ‘The Diamond’ Poirier and Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker promised fireworks on paper and a real threat of shuffling the lightweight division’s upper-echelon. The former certainly delivered as former interim titleholder, Poirier, and creative striker, Hooker traded for five-rounds – in a sure contender for Fight of the Year.
After a somewhat adversity filled opening round, Lafayette native, Poirier hit fifth year midway through the fight – scoring an incredible one-hundred and fifty-three significant strikes. Out-landing and out-working Hooker beyond the third-frame, Poirier mixed in close-quarter hooks, with stiff jabs, and an ever-present guillotine guard-pull as the Kiwi’s double-leg shots became more laboured with each exertion.
Even after an incredible five-round affair, Poirier and Hooker exchanged verbals, with the American Top Team staple asking the City Kickboxing trainee if he was gonna smash his face, like he alluded to, pre-fight.
It’s onward and most certainly upward for Poirier who snapped a nine-month hiatus with a winning return opposite one of the most dangerous 155-pound contenders walking the planet. For Hooker – it’s back to the drawing board with a three-fight rise halted. Below, I play matchmaker for two of the ranks’ most admirable talents.
Dustin Poirier vs. Conor McGregor II:
I wholeheartedly believe Poirier deserves not only an even higher-stakes re-run with McGregor but also – a significant payday. These two first met back at UFC 178 in 2014 – with ‘The Notorious’ one managing a first-frame knockout win. The defeat marked Poirier’s last foray at featherweight. Six years later; both of these most elite punchers occupy the top-five at 155-pounds.
Given that both are also now back in the winner’s enclosure following respective title challenger submission losses to, Khabib Nurmagomedov – the victor can most certainly lay claim to the next shot at gold with a triumph.
The evolution we’ve witnessed in that six-year period between the two is also something worth noting. Poirier has become an even more polished boxer, with fantastic defensive skills, and ability to threaten off the fence. McGregor of course – a supreme counter striker with timing and distance control almost unrivalled in the promotion, at his very best, however.
The latest instalment in the series of McGregor’s retirements should be taken with a massive grain of salt, in my opinion. And, a rematch with Poirier seems to be the route to the title for both. Book it.
Dan Hooker vs. Charles Oliveira:
Poirier vs. Hooker represented a possible changing of the lightweight guard. Hooker vs. Oliveira offers a similar scenario. The New Zealand native entered the headliner, occupying the #5 rank at 155-pounds – but it’s likely he’ll find himself looking down the rankings, rather than up when it’s time to pen his next bout agreement.
In the midst of an incredible seven fight win-streak, #7 ranked opposition, Oliveira has embarked on quite the remarkable career resurgence. ‘Do Bronx’ headlined UFC Fight Night Brasília in March – taking a stunning guillotine win over one-time interim title challenger, Kevin Lee, and insisted on an even bigger name in his next outing.
Hooker has lodged two incredible performances in his last two walks, of course against Poirier, and in February, in a split decision win over Paul Felder. Oliveira’s recent maturity, when faced with pressure, has been really impressive, and a pairing between the two would almost guarantee another complete barnburner.