UFC 266 Fight resumes: Dan Hooker vs Nasrat Haqparast

dan hooker vs nasrat haqparast
Jan 22, 2021; Abu Dhabi, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES; Dan Hooker of New Zealand poses on the scale during the UFC 257 weigh-in at Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 22, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

With two title fights and the return of fan-favorite Nick Diaz on the card, UFC 266 could not be more loaded,and there are some fights that are must-see that has nothing to do with UFC gold or Stockton bad boys.

From a viewer’s perspective, there is a can’t-miss lightweight fight in Dan Hooker vs Nasrat Haqparast. Two of the division’s most entertaining competitors, that could be a main event in its own right. Ninth-ranked New Zealander Hooker will look to defend his place in the lightweight top-10 against Afghan native Haqparast, who has won two straight in the Octagon.

UFC 266: Dan Hooker vs Nasrat Haqparast

The ‘Hangman’s’ hit list

Hooker, 31, debuted in the UFC in 2014 as a featherweight, a weight that current fans may find surprising given Hooker’s stature. The 6-foot tall competitor alternated wins and losses — including defeats to Yair Rodriguez and Jason Knight — before bumping up a weight class to lightweight.

At 155 pounds, Hooker (20-10) has been a much more dangerous fighter. He began his UFC tenure in the division with four straight victories against Ross Pearson, Marc Diakiese, Jim Miller, and future welterweight title challenger Gilbert Burns. “Hangman” finished all four foes, and earned highlight-reel stoppages in the process.

He did suffer a brutal third-round defeat, wrought with damage, at the hands of Edson Barboza in 2018 but strung together three straight wins right after against James Vick, Al Iaquinta, and Paul Felder in a 2020 main event to cement himself as a true contender in the division. The Felder fight garnered “Fight of the Night” honors and was ranked fourth in fight database Tapology’s Best MMA Fights of 2020.

In a consecutive main event appearance, Hooker drew former UFC interim lightweight champion, Dustin Poirier, that summer. While Hooker would find himself on the losing end of a unanimous decision, he had moments of success throughout the fight and once again put on a phenomenal performance, as the bout was on many media outlet’s lists for the best fight and rounds of that year.

Hooker then suffered a first-round defeat to former Bellator superstar and future UFC title challenger Michael Chandler in the latter’s promotional debut. A fight that took place on the pay-per-view main card of the Conor McGregor-led UFC 257 broadcast. Coming off of back-to-back losses for the first time in his UFC career, Hooker will look to bounce back against Haqparast.

The rise of a star from Tristar

Haqparast, 26, signed with the UFC in 2017 after dominating the regional scene in his adoptive Germany. After dropping his promotional debut to Poland’s Marcin Held by unanimous decision, Haqparast rattled off three straight wins en route to becoming known as one of the lightweight division’s top prospects.

Decision wins over Diakiese and Thibault Gauti were followed by a second-round technical knockout of Joaquim Silva. Priming Haqparast (13-3) for a step up in competition against Elevation Fight Team standout Drew Dober at the blockbuster UFC 246 event.

Haqparast stumbled against Dober, dropping the fight by first-round TKO on the January 2020 show. The Tristar product returned to the Octagon seven months later, and he scored a unanimous decision over Alex Munoz. Handing the Dana White’s Contender Series contract winner his first career loss.

Haqparast followed up the win by removing another fighter from the unbeaten list when he defeated former Combate Global champion Rafa Garcia in the latter’s UFC debut in March. The win kicked off Haqparast’s 2021 campaign, the second fight of which will be against Hooker.

Given their penchant for putting on exciting fights and the technical prowess on the feet, the lightweight fight between Hooker and Haqparast is one of the can’t-miss fights at UFC 266.

–Field Level Media

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