Dan Hooker Says UAE Has Massive Future In MMA Ahead Of Abu Dhabi Clash

(@FahadShabbir)

Dan Hooker says UAE has massive future in MMA ahead of Abu Dhabi clash

(UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / WAM - 29th Oct, 2021) ABU DHABI, 28th October 2021 (WAM) - Dan Hooker had said the UAE has a ‘massive future’ in MMA ahead of his showdown with islam Makhachev at UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi.

The New Zealander took the fight on short notice, after the withdrawal of Rafael dos Anjos, looking to halt the express train that is Makhachev and his eight-fight winning streak.

Hooker has fought in Abu Dhabi previously – losing to Michael Chandler at UFC 257 – but despite that he only has positive things to say about the country and the MMA scene.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, travel back to his homeland has been restricted for Hooker – resulting in him having to stay in Dubai where he was able to train and see the level of development in the sport first hand.

"I got stuck here after my last fight in Abu Dhabi for four or five weeks and made the most of it," he said. "I went to TK MMA and had a great experience with a really good team.

"You can feel it over here – it is a bustling MMA Mecca, it is the same feeling as Thailand.

"It is a very central place and everyone can come and train here, and there were a lot of friendly faces from Thailand training because they were getting stuck out of there too.

"It was great training, people from all over the world were getting some great rounds in. It was an incredible experience.

"The UAEAbu Dhabi and Dubai – has a massive future in terms of mixed martial arts."

As he prepares to take on fifth ranked lightweight Makhachev this weekend at the Etihad Arena, Hooker, who is ranked just a single place lower himself, knows he will be walking into a bear pit atmosphere.

Russian, and Dagestani, fighters have always received vociferous support in the UAE capital and the same will be true for Makhachev.

This will not faze the 31-year-old however as he looks to snap an unbeaten streak and push his own credentials in the upper ranks of the 155lbs division.

"It is equally exciting to me main-eventing a show in your home town, or going out there and everyone is against you," he said.

"Everything is energy, whether it is ten or twenty thousand people screaming for you in support, or if it is ten or twenty thousand people wanting your blood.

"Both of those things get me just as excited. I relish this opportunity like nothing else. The way I am approaching this fight is that I am coming over here to the foreign shore, away from home, and I am coming to spoil the party."

UFC 267 takes place on Saturday, October 30 at Etihad Arena on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, with the main card starting at 10 p.m. GST. The first preliminary bout will kick off at 6:30 p.m. GST. It will be headlined by light-heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz putting his title on the line against Glover Teixeira. Elsewhere Petr Yan will take on Cory Sandhagen in a pivotal bantamweight bout, and Khamzat Chimaev makes a much-anticipated return when he takes on Li Jingliang.

UFC 267 will be shown live via global broadcasters across the world. In the UAE and throughout the rest of the middle East and North Africa, UFC content is broadcast on Abu Dhabi sports and streamed on UFC Arabia, UFC’s first Arabic-language streaming subscription service in the region. Further event and ticket information will be released in due course.