Sustained Growth

After taking a hit in the L department in his fourth fight in the UFC, Dan “Hangman” Hooker is embarking on the next leg of his journey.

Having already taken it to the best that Aotearoa & Asia have to offer he is now off to the United States to train with a some of the best in the game – Elevation Fight Team with Champion Tj Dillashaw, Matt Brown & Clay Guida to name a few!”

More coming this week as I catch up with Dan Hooker in a short-shot interview before he flies out to Denver, Colorado!

Check the latest video from Elevation Fight Team below and follow Dan on all Social Medias 😉


Hendricks out.. Hangman IN!

If you weren’t already aware, Johny “Big Rig” Hendricks is out of his UFC 192 contender match with Tyrone “T-WOOD” Woodley due to kidney complications caused by a tough weight-cut leaving the former UFC Welter-Weight Champ hospitalized but recovering well (the entire match has been scrapped & Woodley now has the next title shot at Robbie Lawler!).

Enter The Hangman.

Dan Hooker - Credit Troy Goodall - with txt 2

The much anticipated match between Aotearoa’s own Dan Hooker and Yair “Pantera” Rodriguez has been bumped up onto the UFC 192 Prelims MAIN EVENT!

The last time that Dan Hooker was on the main card he but on an awesome show and highlighted his growth as a fighter with a POTN KO of Pride legend Hatsu Hioki!

Dan Hooker - w TXT

Congrats Dan – Another HUGE opportunity to showcase your skills to the world!

Catch my FULL INTERVIEW with Dan “Hangman” Hooker – HERE

The Hangman

“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.

Dan 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.

Map to TXS

#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.

Dan Hooker - w TXT

#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!

Dan Hooker vs Yair Rodriguez

#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

Featured Image -- 160

#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?? 🙂

Copious Clothing

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!

The Mauler speaks his mind

UFC Light Heavyweight contender and the only man to take former Champ Jon “Bones” Jones to the limit in the cage, Alexander Gustafsson spoke his mind about the Reebok apparel deal and the impacts he sees the deal having on the newcomers to the sport.

When asked what he would do if he was the head of the UFC he said:

“Pay the fighters a lot more money … for all the hard work … and the sacrifices … fighters generally do to fight, I think they’re a little bit underpaid.”

He also went on to say:

“The same thing with the Reebok deal, too.

I don’t have anything negative to say about it. I just think … why take away from fighters who haven’t established themselves in the organization? They have a hard time already, so why take away the small sponsors so they can pay the rent and pay their bills? Why take that away too? Really squeezing that last money from the fighters that haven’t been established yet. I think it’s sad to see.”


“Of course (it makes the sport less attractive)… It’s hard as it is.

Some of them don’t have a choice, they have to do the sport to survive.

Some of them don’t. But I still think that the more support you can have from local sponsors … the more time you have to put in the gym and the more the sport will develop.

It’s just that this Reebok deal is not going to help the fighters.”

He makes a compelling argument to me?

As most people know the UFC & Reebok deal has been a wondrous source of humour around the internet and here are a couple of the best – enjoy.

UFC reebok meme1 UFC reebok meme2 UFC reebok meme3

Chamatkar Sandhu of sat down with him and spoke candidly about the grass roots development of MMA and a quick chat about UFC200 – HERE

Catch up with us on our social medias! #chur

Looking back – Hunt vs Nelson

It feels like a lot less than (just over) a year ago that 2 behemoths graced the cage with their combined presences, but on the 20th of September 2014, at the home of Japanese MMA the Saitama Super Arena that these 2 men, known for their truly devastating striking power and chins of steel met for the 1st time.

History happened.


Roy looks focused with a poor diet, (the story of his life), but we all know the power this TUF Heavyweights winner has in his hands. We also know the credentials he has in BJJ although we very, very rarely see it.

The music and crowd fall silent. Hunt is seen walking down the tunnel as the music hits and the crowd find their voice.

Watching Mark Hunt stalking down to the cage in the home of Pride FC was awesome. This was the birthplace of Hunts roots in MMA. The once great Japanese organisation, home of the great heavyweights, the ultra-educated crowds, the respect and the show that is Saitama Super Arena.

Hunt looks great despite the rumours of a the difficult weight-cut. He looks incredibly calm and in a word – ready.
Tale of the tape

From the opening moment the fight is everything it was hyped up to be.

Both men excellent with their hands and fearless in their approach are picking their shots. Hunt looks light and has his jab in Roy’s face whenever he tries to close the distance. Mark stuffs a couple of seemingly half-hearted takedown attempts but eats some decent shots.Roy throws the overhand and misses by a whisker and less than a minute later Hunt catches him and bloods Nelson’s lip. Eye-poke and a break for a minute then back into it with more precise strikes that are blocked or miss by centimeters with some solid jabs on both sides and a nice uppercut by Hunt that touches Roy on the chin as he ducks to close the distance.

Round Ends.

Mark takes the stool as  Muay Thai & striking coach Lolo Heimuli is short and precise in his advice to Hunt as he tells him to drop his left counter-hook by 5 inches.

The crowd is alive in between rounds cheering rhythmically to the replays of Maku Huntu  putting his fists on Big Country.

Hunt vs Nelson 1
Round 2 of a scheduled 5 begins with more of the same as both men probe and land good shots, getting appreciative calls and applause from the once again, nearly silent Japanese crowd.

Nelson lands a takedown on the K1 Grand-Prix Champion who shows that his BJJ has improved by sweeping and getting back to his feet. Hunt seems to pick up the pace and has his jab in Roy’s face almost permanently as he begins to dictate the action. Mark lands a solid shot that brings more claret from Roy’s mouth and begins to stalk him towards the cage.

He probes with the jab again and Nelson attempts to close the distance by ducking and leaning in. Mark has measured this for the last few minutes and throws a pure-technique right uppercut that turns Roy’s jaw for the first time since Andre Arlovski in Elite-XC – watch the video HERE.

Hunt vs Nelson - burgers

Watch the last moments of the Hunt vs Nelson fight HERE

Let us know what you thought of the fight, it will always be one of my favourites – like many a Mark Hunt fight 🙂 #Chur

BONUS – I’m sure many of us remember this legendary K1 showdown between Mark Hunt and (now WSOF President) Ray Sefo!

Nobody does it like the Japanese.. Enjoy!

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 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

And… Still?

In a shock announcement made less than an hour ago, (at time of publishing), The UFC has announced that Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafson has been sidelined from the much anticipated rematch with Jon “Bones” Jones due to injury.

His new opponent?

The one and only – Daniel “DC” Cormier.

Read more details here.

This begs MANY questions, the main one though – can DC climb the mountain and take the gold?

He’s definitely been talking the talk, and watching his MMA evolution in living colour over the past 18 months has been incredibly interesting. This guy trains with (as Joe Rogan proclaims) “The baddest man on the planet” Cain Velasquez – that’s no joke, and from what I’ve seen of their sparring together, DC is as good, if not slightly better than his UFC Heavyweight-gold-wearing friend and AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) team-mate.

That being said, JBJ has been doing his own development with the most recent display of this being his incredibly dominant victory over Glover Taxiera. Bones absolutely dismantled the Glover hype-train when they squared off and showed that he indeed out-classed the smaller, striking-reliant Taxiera (eye-poke attempts are a topic for another day).

So, who do you rate? Who do you hate? And why??

Catch up with me on Twitter @TheUltim8Writer #discuss.