clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UFC on ESPN 12 card: Dustin Poirier vs Dan Hooker full fight preview

New, 3 comments
UFC Fight Night: Felder v Hooker Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight bruisers Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker will duel TONIGHT (June 27, 2020) at UFC on ESPN 12 from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Poirier put together a pretty incredible win streak to capture the interim title, but all his success in the lead up to his bout with Khabib Nurmagomedov meant little once in the cage. Now, Poirier faces the difficult task of securing a second shot at 155-pound gold following a layoff. While Poirier was sidelined, Hooker picked up some of his career’s best victories, forcing his way into the title mix. Hooker’s combination of range and power has proven pretty deadly as of late, but this will still stand as a considerable step up in competition for the Kiwi.

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

Dustin Poirier

Record: 25-6 (1)
Key Wins: Max Holloway (UFC 236), Justin Gaethje (UFC on FOX 29), Eddie Alvarez (UFC on FOX 30), Anthony Pettis (UFC Fight Night 120), Joseph Duffy (UFC 195)
Key Losses: Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC 242), Conor McGregor (UFC 178), Michael Johnson (UFC Fight Night 94), Chan Sung Jung (UFC on FUEL TV 3)
Keys to Victory: Poirier started in the Octagon as a solid grappler with some heavy hands. Nearly one decade later, Poirier is one of his division’s finest boxers, and that man still hits extremely hard.

For the first time in a long time, Poirier will be without a reach advantage. That definitely changes things a bit, as Poirier likes to snipe opponents from just outside their reach. Instead, Poirier will largely be forced to walk Hooker down, much like he once did opposite Joe Duffy.

Against Hooker, Poirier should be looking to smother that jab with his own lead hand. That alone will help him close distance, as Hooker will be forced to rely more on the jab since Poirier’s Southpaw stances will help mitigate the calf kick’s effectiveness. As he pushes forward and smothers the jab, Poirier should be looking to dig to the mid-section with his left.

Against Duffy, Poirier found great success in stepping into Orthodox off his left hand, which allowed him to shoot for takedowns or follow up with more power shots. Both strategies seem wise against Hooker, who likely does not want to wrestle or trade in the pocket with Poirier.


Dan Hooker

Record: 20-8
Key Wins: Gilbert Burns (UFC 226), Paul Felder (UFC Fight Night 168), Al Iaquinta (UFC 243), James Vick (UFC on ESPN 4), Marc Diakiese (UFC 219), Jim Miller (UFC Fight Night 128),
Key Losses: Edson Barboza (UFC on FOX 31), Jason Knight (UFC Fight Night 101), Yair Rodriguez (UFC 192)
Keys to Victory: Hooker is a long and lanky Lightweight with serious power in his hands. Lately, he’s been really torching opponents with his calf kick, and the New Zealand-native has some tricky submissions up his sleeve as well.

In most of his recent fights, the jab and calf kick have proven an incredibly successful combination for Hooker. Against a Southpaw in Poirier, however, he cannot solely rely on those two weapons at distance, as it will be much easier for “The Diamond” to defend simply because of how their stances match up.

However, Hooker still wants this fight at distance. His straight jab can still be effective, it just has to be landed off the hand-fight, and his cross will often take its purpose. Hooker’s right leg can still do damage as well, ideally in the form of a snap kick up the middle or round body kick.

If Hooker makes the proper adjustments to his kickboxing, there’s a real chance he can catch Poirier coming forward with a major counter.

Bottom Line

This is going to be fun!

Poirier is at a somewhat strange position in his career. He may have lost to Nurmagomedov recently, but he pretty much pummeled the rest of the top contenders on his way up. Since he’s been on the sidelines for a while, the division has moved forward without him ... despite Poirier only losing to the champion.

As a result, this fight is pretty huge for “The Diamond.” He either wins and is right back in the title mix, or he comes up short and slips down the rankings in a major way.

This is no small moment for “The Hangman” either. Hooker has a chance here to take out a former interim champion and score by far the biggest win of his career. He’s been fighting a long time and building toward this opportunity, so it’s now again time to test just how high Hooker’s ceiling stands.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 12 fight card tonight RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.

For more news and notes on this weekend’s UFC on ESPN 12 event click here.

At UFC on ESPN 12, Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker will battle in the main event. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?