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UFC 243 card: Dan Hooker vs Al Iaquinta full fight preview

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight hitters Dan Hooker and Al Iaquinta will go to war this Saturday (Oct. 5, 2019) at UFC 243 from inside Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.

There is an interesting parallel between Hooker and Iaquinta. Both men are primarily strikers — knockout artists, even — yet their losses to Edson Barboza and Donald Cerrone respectively are rather similar. In both bouts, Hooker and Iaquinta found themselves trapped on the outside with a superior range fighter, enduring massive amounts of damage. Hooker has already been given the chance to bounce back from his loss, which he did in excellent fashion by nearly decapitating James Vick. Alternatively, this will be Iaquinta’s first chance at redemption.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Dan Hooker

Record: 18-8
Key Wins: Gilbert Burns (UFC 226), James Vick (UFC on ESPN 4), Marc Diakiese (UFC 219), Jim Miller (UFC Fight Night 128), Hatsu Hioki (UFC Fight Night 65)
Key Losses: Edson Barboza (UFC on FOX 31), Jason Knight (UFC Fight Night 101), Yair Rodriguez (UFC 192)
Keys to Victory: Hooker is an incredibly crafty finisher. All but one of the New Zealanders victories have come via stoppage, a testament to the large number of dangerous weapons in his arsenal, such as the shifting hook, step knee and guillotine choke.

Another important tool for Hooker is the head kick, and that should be a pivotal weapon here. Between the high kick and step knee, Hooker has the tools necessary to interrupt Iaquinta’s head movement. Iaquinta strikes more like a boxer than anything else, and it’s quite difficult to slip and roll successfully when a single mistimed turn of the head could run him into a shin.

Hooker’s calf kicks could also help limit Iaquinta’s head movement. It is very difficult to check a kick while slipping, so a simple jab-low kick combination would likely prove very effective for Hooker. If Hooker is successfully able to limit Iaquinta’s head movement with the threat of kicks and knees, he sets himself up for another knockout win.


Al Iaquinta

Record: 14-5-1
Key Wins: Kevin Lee (UFC on FOX 31, UFC 169), Jorge Masvidal (UFC Fight Night 63), Ross Pearson (UFC Fight Night 55), Joe Lauzon (UFC 183)
Key Losses: Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC 223), Donald Cerrone (UFC Fight Night 151), Michael Chiesa (TUF 15 Finale), Mitch Clarke (UFC 173)
Keys to Victory: “Raging Al” is deceptively tricky himself. He’s never been anything less than forthright about his goal of clubbing opponents upside the head, but Iaquinta mixes up his targets well and generally sets up his right hand better than most bruisers.

In my opinion, Iaquinta is at his best when mixing takedown threats into his offense. He does a great job of feinting toward the leg and then coming up with punches, but he’ll also fully grab the leg and off-balance his foe before releasing a combination.

As such, I’d like to see Iaquinta actually commit to landing a takedown or two. He has to be wary of Hooker’s guillotine choke, but Iaquinta is a veteran who should be well prepared for such a threat. If Iaquinta is able to score a takedown or two, it will go a long way in making sure that his takedown feints are respected, meaning he’ll be able to more successfully land punches afterward.

Plus, it’s a three-round fight. A single takedown can flip the judges on a close round, which could just be the deciding factor.


Bottom Line: It’s going to be an awesome fight.

It’s also a major opportunity for Hooker. Outside of the loss to Barboza, Hooker’s Lightweight run has been incredible — and it’s not like a defeat to Barboza is a permanent black mark against him, the Brazilian is a nasty match up for most non-pressure fighters. A victory over Iaquinta would be the biggest win yet for “The Hangman,” and it would jump him significantly up the ranks.

By accepting a fight with a Lightweight nine spots below his current position at No. 6, Iaquinta is definitely taking a risk. That’s not exactly fair, because Hooker is damn good and just as dangerous as someone like Paul Felder (No. 7). Fair or not, Iaquinta cannot afford a loss, as it could drop him from the Top 10 entirely. Meanwhile, a win would reassert Iaquinta’s current position, largely guaranteeing him a fellow Top 10-ranked foe next time out.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 243 fight card this weekend right HERE, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 243: “Whittaker vs. Adesanya” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

At UFC 243, Dan Hooker and Al Iaquinta will collide in the co-main event. Which man will have his hand raised?