Dustin Poirier v Dan Hooker UFC Fight Night Predictions & Tips

Leigh Copson:

Dustin Poirier’s bid to dethrone UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov last September ended in failure, so can he get back to winning ways when he takes on Dan Hooker in the main event of the UFC Fight Night card at the UFC APEX on June 27?

Poirier appeared destined for ‘gatekeeper’ status in the 155lb division in 2016 when he was stopped in the very first round by Michael Johnson, but he turned the corner in 2017, hit a hot streak and did not look back as he surged up the lightweight rankings to earn a shot at the title.

Having bounced back from his loss to Johnson with a decision win over the experienced Jim Miller, Poirier then reeled of four straight wins against some of the best the division has to offer to land his crack at Khabib. He submitted Anthony Pettis to get the ball rolling before stopping Justin Gaethje (now the interim champion) with strikes in the fourth round of their contest. Ex-champion Eddie Alvarez was then dispatched inside two rounds and it was in his next outing that Poirier cemented his claim for a shot at the belt.

Poirier was paired with then featherweight kingpin Max Holloway in a fight for the interim lightweight championship. ‘Diamond’ had beaten the Hawaiian ace previously, submitting Holloway in the very first round of their first meeting back in 2012, but ‘Blessed’ had improved considerably since that night to establish himself as one of the very best fighters in the lighter weight classes. For many he was primed for revenge. Poirier had other ideas though, and at the end of a thrilling five-round scrap the judges awarded the contest to ‘Diamond’ on the scorecards, handing him the interim crown and a guaranteed shot at Khabib Nurmagomedov.

That shot came in Abu Dhabi last September and it ended in failure. Poirier had the skill set that suggested he could pose problems for the dominant champion, but there is a reason why UFC fights take place in an Octagon and not on paper. Khabib completely dominated the opening round and never let up as he out-struck and out-wrestled the challenger before forcing him to tap out to a rear-naked choke in the third round. There was certainly no shame in losing to Khabib, but Poirier will be desperate to get back on track this Saturday night.

Looking to inflict back-to-back defeats on Poirier for the first time in his career is Dan Hooker. The 30-year-old New Zealander is in a man in good form after an underwhelming star to his UFC career that saw ‘The Hangman’ go 3-3 in his first six fights. However, he has really picked up some steam since his second-round stoppage of Ross Pearson in 2017, going 7-1 in his last eight fights to climb the rankings. During this run he has produced first-round knockouts of Gilbert Burns and Jim Mliller while also besting the durable Al Iaquinta over three rounds, and in his most recent outing Hooker recorded his ‘signature’ win as he got the better over a top-five ranked Paul Felder to propel himself into the top five.

But can Hooker keep this fine run going to seriously stake his claim for a title shot? My answer is ‘no’. Yes Poirier was totally dominated by Khabib last time out, but he was not the first man to be mauled by the Russian and it is highly likely that he will not be the last. ‘Diamond’ remains one of the very best that the lightweight division has to offer with an all-round game that should make him too much for Hooker. The New Zealander will not go quietly, but as the fight wears on Poirier will take control of the contest and either stop him late on or earn the nod from the judges.