UFC On ESPN 12: Dustin Poirier Edges Dan Hooker In A Fight Of the Year Contender

Ever since UFC President Dana White stated the promotion would continue without fans, there has been a lot of pressure to put on bouts that will exceed expectations. After all, the last big fight in 2020 was a war between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Zhang Weili earlier this year. In the last event before “Fight Island“, the UFC has found its next praisable fight.

Inside the UFC APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker put on a show for five brutal rounds. The two lightweights engaged in a back and forth affair that was violent as it was entertaining. In the end, Poirier would get the unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-46) win over Hooker.

“It was a tough one,” Poirier said after the fight, via MMA Fighting. “Dan came to fight. He really thought he was going to get past me. I trusted in my team and my skill and my work ethic and I had a few more rounds in me.”

Both men were known for their knockout power before their clash; Poirier (26-6, 1 NC) has 12 wins via knockout while Hooker (20-9) has 10. They would look to utilize that from the get-go, as Hooker hit an early left in the first round, setting up shots that would try and hurt Poirier. Poirier, however, would hit kicks and punches of his own. A left hook by Hooker stunned Poirier for a moment, and then things took a wild turn.

Before round one could end, Hooker would hit a flurry of elbows and kicks along with knees. Poirier would fire back with heavy shots to the face. Hooker would end up landing 31 power shots compared to Poirier’s 16. Round two was kicked into high gear, as Hooker would hit huge shots to the head. Poirier, however, would absorb those shots and land huge elbows and jabs. The middle of round two had them about even with significant strikes, with Poirier landing 25 and Hooker 23. They would both end up hitting a combined 118 shots at the end of the round.

With both bleeding by the eyes, Poirier would hit jabs and combination shots. Hooker would respond with a knee and a left. He would then hit six shots in a row before Poirier grabbed him for a takedown attempt. Hooker would end the round by teeing off. Both would then hit counter shots in round three. At one point, Poirier had Hooker in a guillotine and a triangle, but he miraculously was able to get out of it. Both would end the round with shots as the announcers were marveling at what they were watching.

Poirier would end up saying he was having a blast after round four, and this was after multiple submission attempts by him. Both would continue to jab away with hard shots, but Poirier was able to take Hooker down. Poirier would hit multiple hammer fists as he was on full guard. Hooker held his own and landed a big shot while Poirier was going for a guillotine.

Almost even in round five, both were tired but ready to go six rounds, as said by Poirier after the fight. Hooker landed his fourth takedown of the night but Poirier would not let him land any further than that. Poirier would hit a big shot to the face of Hooker as he went for another takedown. He would then control the ground game for the final minutes before the round came to a close.

In total, Poirier landed 222 shots while Hooker landed 182. Poirier won his first fight since losing to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242 in September. Holding the interim UFC Lightweight Title, Porier was submitted by the UFC Lightweight Champion. It ended a six-fight unbeaten streak, and he is now 6-1 in eight bouts with one no-contest.

“Maybe I’ll fight at the end of the year. Maybe I’ll fight next year,” Poirier went on to say. “Now that I’m a victor again, I want to get back to the drawing board. I just want to do it right and give it my all the right way.”

Ranked fifth in the UFC’s lightweight rankings, Hooker lost his first fight since the middle of 2018, ending a three-fight win streak. He is 3-2 in his last five fights.

Main Card (8 p.m., ESPN)

Dustin Poirier def. Dan Hooker via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-46)

Mike Perry def. Mickey Gall via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Maurice Greene def. Gian Villante via arm-triangle (3:44 into round three)

Brendan Allen def. Kyle Daukaus via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)

Takashi Sato def.  Jason Witt via TKO (:48 into round one)

Julian Erosa def. Sean Woodson via D’Arce choke (2:44 into round three)

Prelims (6 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Khama Worthy def. Luis Pena via guillotine choke (2:53 into round three)

Tanner Boser def. Philipe Lins via knockout (2:41 into round one)

Kay Hansen def. Jinh Yu Frey via armbar (2:26 into round three)

Youssef Zalal def. Jordan Griffin via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

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