Sport | UFC

Kiwi UFC star set for return at UFC Austin fight night in five-round co-main event

Dan Hooker (Ngāti Maniapoto) is set to venture where few UFC fighters have gone before him.

When the Kiwi lightweight steps into the octagon to put his No. 9 ranking on the line against No. 12 Bobby Green in Texas on December 3, he will do so in a set of unique circumstances as the co-main event.

In the UFC, all fights consist of three five-minute rounds barring main events and title fights, which are five five-minute rounds. However, there are rare occasions when the UFC will book a five-round non-title bout.

This is one of those situations, with UFC president Dana White revealing Hooker and Green is lined up as a five-round co-main event (the penultimate fight of the card).

The Herald understands Hooker and Green were initially being targeted as the headliner for the event at Austin’s Moody Center, and his team had agreed to a five-round fight.

However, it had been suggested that the bout may be bumped to co-main event status with two higher-ranked lightweights, Arman Tsarukyan (8) and Beneil Darisuh (4), also booked on the same card. It appears the UFC has opted to put the higher-ranked fight in the showcase spot, while keeping the high-action offering of Hooker and Green at the same length.

Contract extension

The Herald also understands Hooker is in the process of negotiating a new multi-fight contract extension with the promotion; one that is expected to place him among the UFC’s highest-paid lightweights.

The bout against Green will see the 33-year-old return from injury, after suffering a broken hand in his hard-fought split decision win over Jalin Turner in July.

The bout against Green will be the third time Hooker has been lined up for a five-round fight in the UFC. In February 2020, he beat Paul Felder by split decision in the headline spot of the UFC’s most recent visit to Auckland. Later that year, he dropped a unanimous decision to Dustin Poirier in a Hall of Fame-calibre scrap.

In Green, Hooker will have a willing dance partner wherever the fight goes, with the 37-year-old American a well-rounded mixed martial artist, but one who thrives in the striking exchanges.

Like Hooker, Green has been fighting in the UFC for the past decade but continues to surge forward. He has won his last two bouts by stoppage; his 33sec knockout over Grant Dawson – ranked No.10 in the division when they fought in October – catapulting him into the rankings.