1, 2 get down... Dustin Poirier made his walk through an empty UFC Apex gym. James Brown's voice echoed throughout, "Paid the Cost to be the boss," foretelling tonights' UFC main event was not for entertainment. Whoever came out victorious in tonight's headliner cemented their position as the best candidate for the UFC lightweight championship title bout. Inside the octagon awaited Dan Hooker, the fifth-ranked UFC lightweight contender.
Known for his elusiveness, accuracy, and endurance Dan Hooker came into tonight's fight with nothing to prove and everything to gain. Hookers' fight record speaks for itself. In his last seven victories, he's finished five of his opponents with a submission or knockout, including Gilbert Burns.
Both fighters started the round with heavy kicks to the body. Hooker mixed in a few left-handed jabs directing Poirier to guard his chin. Hooker commanded control of the center of the octagon, circling Poirier picking his strikes at will, although Poirier did a decent job throwing out counter punches and kicks. Hooker continued to be in control of where the fight took place. Two minutes into the fight, Hooker landed two incidental kicks to the groin. The fight intensity was growing, Poirier began instigating action, pressuring Hooker up against the octagon cage. Hooker escaped. Circling Poirier he fell victim to a right hook to his jaw, and a hook on the body, Poirier followed up his attack with another right hook causing Hooker to lose his balance. Hooker responded with wrestling, snatching Poiriers back, forcing the fight up against the fence. Poirier was able to gather Hookers' wrist, spin around to face him. As time began to wind down, both fighters went in to attack mode fighting in close quarters: Poirier fighting with his back to cage landed elbow strikes, Hooker landed a high knee strike to the face of Poirier. Both fighters were connecting with heavy combo's. Poirier found room to land a few more stiff jabs on Hooker in the final few seconds of the round.
Hooker took control of the center of the octagon. Poirier encountered a sturdy kick to the body. Hooker continued his high paced pressure with teap kicks and jabs as Poirier paced backward. Poirier responds to Hooker attack with a double jab followed by a sharp right hook. Hooker now on the retreat was hit with a stiff straight right hand to the jaw. Keeping diligent, Hooker responded with a left hook, right hook combo followed by a knee strike that landed on Poirier's head. Hooker found himself pressed against the fence, Poirier was working for a takedown but opted to hold Hooker against the cage, one wrist traped by as he landed several uppercuts to the face of Hooker. All of this lead to some all-time great "fighting in a phone booth" action. Hooker sat there lighting Poirier up like a Tuesday morning practice back at his home gym City Kickboxing. Poirier showed his championship mentality as he responded with another sharp right hook that marched Hooker back to the center of the octagon.
Both fighters wore the look of exhaustion and continued to advance, landing one hit strikes and a few combos for good measure. Hooker potentially stole the round in the final thirty seconds as he countered Poirier with a clean right hook, left hook combo, and more peppered strikes to the body. In the last ten seconds, Hooker landed strike, after strike, after strike on Poirier. To Poirier's credit, he never left his feet and gave a valiant effort to defend the shots.
Hooker came out of his corner, showing a fresh new gash around his eye. The fight action was slower paced. Both fighters exchange singular blows until about two minutes into the round Poirier defended a takedown attempt with a guillotine choke for the counter, Hooker alveated the pressure of the choke and was able to escape. Poirier stayed active from the guard position with a few arm-triangle attempts and found a way to work back up to his feet.
"Stay disciplined." Dan Hookers' coach told him. Poirier stole the center of the octagon for control, as Hooker circled him Poirier landed some jabs to Hookers' face. Hooker was able to wrestle Poirier to the mat. However, Poirier successfully got the escape (twice) and followed up with a takedown of his own. Poirier captured the back of Hooker and attempted a crab ride, but was too high on Hooker's hips of Hooker, who shook him off. Lucky for Poirier, he fell into an offensive position nearly getting an arm submission win. Hooker found his balance, countered, and finished the round on top of Poirier.
Poirier started the fifth round with a straight right hand. Hooker retreated while throwing counter strikes. Poirier was in full control where the fight took place. Hooker attempted about two takedowns that Poirier defended. Hookers' third takedown attempt was successful, but Poirier was able to work his way back to his feet and escape.
Hooker seemed a little desperate as he continued to attempt more takedowns, which all were unsuccessful. Poirier continued to counter the takedown attempts with the threat of a guillotine. The final seconds of the round ended with Poirier on top of Hooker, landing multiple jabs.
(48 - 47), (48 - 47), (48 - 46)
With the world of sports on quarantine, this fight was must-see TV on ESPN+. Both fighters competed with their best effort, but in the end, Dustin "The Diamond" Poirier got his hand raised for the unanimous decision victory. Reminding the world that mixed martial arts is exciting to watch and be apart of, but only a few have "Paid the Cost to be the boss," and both of these fighters put that on display.
- Naturl Grappler.