‘It’s Fueled My Thirst’: Dan Hooker Fighting For Late Training Partner and Friend Fau Vake At UFC 266

Just three weeks before Dan Hooker’s return to the octagon, his sparring partner and close friend Fau Vake died.

Hooker said Vake’s death has “fueled” his training, and he will fight for him at UFC 266 on September 25. He is going to share the octagon with Nasrat Haqparast. He will try to get back in the winning column after suffering defeat against Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler.

“It’s fueled my thirst to get out there and fight. I have always have that thirst, but it’s definitely added an incredible amount of fuel to the fire,” Hooker said.

“There’s a lot of anger about the situation – a lot of emotion – and the only way that I know how to deal with that kind of emotion is to fight, to get out there and compete,” he added.

Four strangers attacked Vake in Auckland. He suffered severe damage and was rushed to the hospital. Vake died nine days later.

In August, Ofa Folau, one of the men allegedly involved in the attack, was sentenced to six months home detention.

“To be part of an attack in which a man’s life was taken and for you to not serve time in prison is an absolute joke in my opinion. A man is dead. He’s got a daughter, he’s got a family,” Hooker previously said.

Hooker said he believed Vake would’ve made it to the UFC.

“He would’ve been one of the guys where I could’ve sat back one day and watch him compete in the UFC,” he said. “Long after I’m retired, when I’m an old man, I could sit on my couch, drink my beers and watch Fau get out there in the UFC and do some damage to some folks.

“To have that stolen away from him is upsetting,” he added.

Still, Hooker said he’s paying homage to his friend at his upcoming fight.

Hooker previously hung up his gloves after suffering a first-round TKO loss against Chandler. He mentioned in interviews that he was thinking about retirement, but that’s been put on hold as he prepares for UFC 266.

The event will headline Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega in Las Vegas. The main card starts at 10 p.m. ET.

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