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UFC Auckland's Dan Hooker says Paul Felder made things personal: ‘I’m going to fold that boy like a deckchair’

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UFC 243: Iaquinta v Hooker Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Rising UFC lightweight contender Dan Hooker is making things personal heading into his crucial main event bout opposite veteran Paul Felder at UFC Fight Night 168 on Feb. 23 live on ESPN+ from inside Spark Arena in Auckland, Australia.

While Hooker is a fighter who usually lets his skills do the talking, the 29-year-old finisher has already begun his attack on Felder pre-fight. That’s because “Irish Dragon” recently stated that he wants to knock Hooker out in front of his own family, friends, and hometown fans. Hooker understandably took exception to Felder’s comments and is now out for blood.

“It’s definitely crossed that line for me,” Hooker told MMA Junkie. “I didn’t feel that this fight needed any of that. I didn’t feel like this fight needed anything added to it, you know? We’re two of the best, we’re both just brawlers, we love to come in there and throw down.”

“I don’t think it was necessary, but if he wants to start throwing those things out there, I’m not going to sit back and take it. I’m going to retaliate, I’m going to bring the heat and yeah, it’s definitely crossed the line for me, gone into a very personal nature.”

Hooker, who is native to Auckland, is statistically one of the best finishers at 155 pounds today. Outside of his recent unanimous decision win over former title challenger Al Iaquinta this past October, “Hangman” has finished all of his other eight UFC wins by way of knockout or submission. That’s an incredible finishing rate, and one Hooker will try to implement when he meets Felder next month.

“I’m going to fold that boy like a deckchair, I promise you,” Hooker said.

“I think it’s going to be a fast start. Whether it happens in the first or the fifth, I do not care. It’s up to him. It’s when he wants to take those risks, but I’m chinning that boy, I promise.”

If Hooker is able to take out Felder in his first main event bid and make “Irish Dragon” eat his words it’s going to greatly increase his lightweight stock heading into 2020. After all, “Hangman” has produced a 6-1 record since making his return to 155 pounds back in 2017.

“It gets me a shot at the top-five, without a shadow of doubt,” Hooker said of a win over Felder. “We’ve got the Tony-Khabib fight coming up. (Justin) Gaethje’s waiting in the wings; he looks like he’s going to be the next shot or Conor (McGregor). Conor’s on a no-fight win streak at the moment, Gaethje’s on a three-fight win streak. Win over Felder puts me on a three-fight win streak, so that puts me in the same position as Gaethje, so either we fight, or he gets out of my way.”

“Main event, finish over Felder, that puts me in the top-five position. That gives me a crack at one of those big-name guys, 100 percent.”

For more UFC Auckland fight card news click here.