A date with The Hangman

“The Hangman” is a poem written in 1951 by Maurice Ogden about a travelling hangman that arrives in a town and begins to hang the residents one by one until there is no-one left.

What better handle for Aotearoa’s newest UFC recruit – Dan “The Hangman” Hooker who is looking to clean house in one of the most competitive and talent-stacked weight divisions in MMA.

Credit: Hannah Peters/Getty Images AsiaPac

I was lucky enough to catch up with Dan briefly in a break from his eat, sleep, train, repeat regime. This is how it went!

 #TheUW – Ok Dan, thanks for agreeing to do this interview, I’m a huge fan of yours and have seen your fights locally and your big one on the UFC stage at the end of June this year. Tell everyone at home a bit about your roots, where you grew up and how you found MMA! 

Born and raised in Auckland. Got my first taste of MMA when I was about 17, went along to support my mate and New Zealand heavyweight champ Steve “Warzone” Warby in his first amateur fight. He won with a massive Knock Out and the crowd went nuts! I remember the excitement and I wanted in!

I started training the following week and the rest is history..

#TheUW – Tell me what it means to you to be an MMA fighter and role model in New Zealand and how that influences the way you present yourself and your gym.

I’m just continuing a strong history of New Zealand fighters and just want to do our style justice. Kiwi fighters are lucky to have a lot of role models to look up to that have achieved success on the world stage.

#TheUW – After UFC Fightnight Auckland, a story surfaced about your opponent on the night, Ian Entwhistle, had been disrespecting you and your corner.. What’s the story there?

Everyone approaches the fight game differently; I think that New Zealand combat sport is heavily based on respect so we’re not used to this sort of carry on, but you can’t beat a dead horse, I’m over it!

If you want drama watch Shortland Street [laughs]..

#TheUW – Do you think he regrets doing that after you buried him alive with elbows from his leg-lock attempt? Sorry – had to ask!

This is business.. I don’t take it personally, he was trying to play a mental game. I’ve been a doorman for a couple years I’m pretty much bullshit retardant these days.

Credit: Hannah Peters/Getty Images AsiaPac

#TheUW – How has the win at UFC FN Auckland changed your day-to-day life? Do you still put your pants one leg at a time like everyone else?  :p

I saw that guy on YouTube do it with no hands so I gave it a crack but no luck. Hats off to that man he has my full respect.. [laughs]

But nah, not at all to be honest. All I ever wanted to do was train and fight.. So I’m just living my dream! I bought some new running shoes which are pretty cool? But that’s about it!

#TheUW – At UFC FN Auckland, it looks like you reached another level – you were a picture of calmness and when i watched the replay (which I have done numerous times now) you really didn’t look to be in danger at any time. I know in the post-fight interview with KenFlo, you mentioned that you basically ‘live in bad positions like that’. How much of a mental edge did that give you when Entwhistle was trying to destroy your knee in that 1st round?

I have a lot of faith in my coaches and training partners. They prepared me well for the fight and the evidence is in the result. He could have taken the foot home with him if he wanted! I would have just fought hopping on one leg.

Credit: UFC

Credit: UFC

#TheUW – What was it like having nearly 10,000 people out of their seats and hanging on your every movement in the fight and your every word in the post-fight? Such a commanding stage to be on!

It was humbling really, just to do New Zealand proud on the world stage and show the potential we have in this country. I’m just following the path laid out by guys like Mark (Hunt), Jamie (Te Huna) and Dylan (Andrews).

#TheUW – You were a huge hit that night and that has carried over into a viral movement on social media called #Hangman4Japan – this has obviously gathered steam to the point where a couple of weeks ago, it was announced by the UFC that you will indeed be on the UFC Japan card at the Saitama Arena, how big was that moment for you?

It’s the next step forward, I just wanted to watch Mark (Hunt) and Roy (Nelson) throw down and Japan is such a cool country I just wanted to be a part of this event. It’s cool the fight is just the cherry on top for me.

Credit: UFC

Credit: UFC

#TheUW – At UFC Japan you’re fighting Venezuelan Maximo Blanco who’s 50/50 from his last 4 fights in the UFC – what have you been doing to prepare for him in terms of watching tape, reading rankings and even Wikipedia?

Watched a couple fights just to see what he’s about, watch his highlights! He’s all jumping, flying and spinning kicks and knees. He comes to fight and put on a show which is what I’m all about but in terms of studying and breaking down fighters I just get a general idea, you never know what to expect.

#TheUW – What is the plan for your fight-camp? Are you basing it in Japan, or will you be out West in Auckland? How long is your camp going to be and what extra-mile stuff do you have planned for it?

I was back in the gym Monday morning after my fight so I guess camp started then. You don’t mess with a winning recipe; I’m always developing my game and learning which is the basis of being a martial artist.

#TheUW – Are you aware that Tapology.com has you ranked as the #93 Featherweight MMA fighter in the world? How does that feel?

There are 66 guys in my division in the UFC, that’s the only number I’m interested in and I’m one down 65 to go.

At the end of the day it’s about improving yourself as a person as well as a fighter I don’t tend to get caught up with statistics, I’m not much of a numbers man [laughs]..

#TheUW – Well, thanks heaps for coming in Dan and awesome to catch up with you – where can people find you online if they want to keep tabs on you and your MMA career?

Catch me on my Twitter @danthehangman and on the Dan “The Hangman” Hooker Facebook page!

 #TheUW – Awesome mate, again, huge thanks for the interview and like everyone else, will be travelling with you in spirit to UFC Japan!

#TheEnd #Chur #TheUW

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