“I am tired.. But I am at peace.” is a line from the poem that shares the name of this article and also shares the fight-name of my next guest – Dan “The Hangman” Hooker.
It’s a nice sunny New Zealand morning, still crisp at 9 degrees (Celsius) and as I write this I think of Dan as he’s a day, and a world away in 24 degrees of rain, with 80% humidity in Texas, USA. Coming off a potential KO of the year where he received a $50,000 bonus and what has been a huge year of growth and development for him in all aspects.. I couldn’t wait to talk to him about life.
#TheUW – Hey Dan, Thanks heaps for the catchup 🙂 Tell me about your top 2 achievements/milestones in the last twelve months!
My biggest would have to be my engagement to my beautiful fiancé 🙂 , the other would be finally ticking head kick KO of my to do list!
#TheUW – You won a POTN bonus in your most recent UFC appearance where you methodically took out a true MMA legend from the Pride days, Hatsu Hioki. Congrats on that, it was a brilliant fight where you executed almost faultlessly. What did your performance in that fight do for you mentally, and also in terms of the $50k – what has that given you the ability to do now?
I knew that I was capable of that kind of performance, I felt comfortable and the fight went how we had anticipated. So in terms of my mentality it doesn’t really change anything, maybe a bit of reassurance but no surprises 🙂 The bonus allows me to focus on training with less distraction. But more so it has allowed me to see that all the hard work does pay of and has driven my ambition.
Hooker vs Hioki
#TheUW – At the beginning of the year you made a big move in camps heading over to Saigon Sports Club & reuniting with a man that you have said is one of your favourite coaches in Caesar Barry Robinson (AMSB/Clean Boxing). What did you gain from that and were there any cons or disadvantages from the move?
Yeah, the experience and knowledge that I gained from coach Barry over the five months in Vietnam was invaluable.
Besides the training and practical side of improvements there was a big mental change. In the past I had (previously) been getting as fit and ready as I could & then going into the fight and trying my hardest to win.
Now (I’m) preparing intelligently, breaking down an opponents weaknesses and winning the fight in the gym a long time before I step in the cage.
#TheUW – Having trained in Thailand before, you’ve had a taste of the real South East Asia – anything from your time in Saigon that was a bit of a culture shock?
The whole experience was a massive culture shock haha but a saying that has guided me through the years is “get comfortable being uncomfortable”.
.. that’s why I love to travel and train and get out of my comfort zone..
If you are able to focus in such an uncomfortable environment and that becomes your norm, then fight week is nothing new.
#TheUW – You got engaged at the beginning of the year, congrats! Your fiancé was able to travel to Saigon with you while you were in camp. How big is that support role and did it change with the engagement & being immersed in another culture?
Yeah, that’s my balance.
Generally, I’ll just get so carried away with training and the fight (and) its all I think about. Having my fiancé their gives me a chance to mentally relax and get away from all the stresses of training.
#TheUW – Turning to the future now: Where are you in camp for your upcoming fight against fellow UFC up & comer Yair Rodriguez?
I’m in Auckland for this camp working with some of the best fighters in the country!
The training partners I have in my camp are much stronger than my next opponent so come fight night I will be well prepared.
I’m working my strength and conditioning with Makoto Endo, he will make sure I’m physically in the best shape of my life. My wrestling coach for this camp Andrei Paulet has been a big part of improving my game and has been a great new addition!
#TheUW- Every fight in the UFC for you is pretty much the most important fight of your career but do you feel like it’s really crunch time now with both of you putting a run together at the moment & looking to hit your straps heading towards the top 10?
You said it!
Every fight is make or break, but that’s the way I have treated my entire career so I’m not new to the pressure 🙂 ..
.. But yea I’m so close to the top of the division I can taste it! Yair will have to bring a bat or a gun with him to stop me when we get in there!
#TheUW – Now there have been a huge range of reactions from everyone in and around the world of MMA to the UFC & Reebok apparel deal going live. What does the Reebok deal mean to you?
The Reebok deal is nothing but great news for me!
Reebok is going to give me a bunch of new gear and then cut me a cheque post-fight, so no complaints from me!
Related: Alexander Gustaffson speaks his mind on Reebok deal
#TheUW – You’re a true ambassador for NZMMA and Aotearoa in general. Does that play into your mind when you’re doing the fight-week media or what is going through your mind at those times?
Fight week I’m just enjoying the moment, all the hard work has been done.
All the support from NZ is great!
The well wishes and support do give me a big push in the last couple of days. I think especially with my next fight being so far away that being able to connect with everyone via social media is a great tool!
#TheUW – NZs combat scene seems to be humming along nicely now and with the addition of Fair Pay Fighting to the mix with their unique system of live streaming, what do you think this could mean to NZ?
Its exactly what kiwi fighters need for exposure, giving them the chance to connect with the online market is great!
With New Zealand being so far away geographically it means we often have to take fights short notice or for less money to get noticed..
This system will allow fighters to build their name internationally and increase their demand through social media.
#TheUW – Awesome Dan – You know we’ll be watching back home along with the rest of the world when you step back in their at UFC 192 this weekend! Any shout outs?? 🙂
Makoto Endo Personal Training
Andrei Paulet Personal Training
Tony Martins Sport Connection
Catch one of my other interviews with Dan from last year – HERE.
Check this awesome inspirational and get to know Dan Hooker a little bit better – Catch up with Dan on his social medias and us too! #Chur
If you’re looking to get anything to do with the UFC – try Mighty Ape!