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Midnight Mania! Dan Hooker: City Kickboxing being forced out of New Zealand due to COVID-19 measures

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UFC 263: Adesanya v Vettori 2

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

One of the under appreciated stories in MMA over the last few years has been the rise of City Kickboxing. Eugene Bareman has established himself as one of the best coaches in the sport, while his athletes Alexander Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya have led the charge inside the Octagon, capturing world titles and building massive win streaks.

The gym has produced several other top fighters, including Dan Hooker, who will compete tomorrow night at UFC 266 vs. Nasrat Haqparast. That fight almost didn’t materialize, as stricter COVID-19 regulations very nearly stranded Hooker, a team leader at City Kickboxing, in New Zealand. In addition, all of the fighters have been prohibited from training together, which surely made his camp more difficult.

As a result, Hooker revealed to Just Scrap radio that the team is considering relocating.

“They’ve actually closed the booking system here in New Zealand so you can’t actually get back into the country altogether,” Hooker explained. “What a few of us other fighters from New Zealand are looking at doing is potentially stationing ourselves offshore and stationing ourselves out of New Zealand for the foreseeable future.”

Hooker managed to score a voucher just before the system closed, but it does not give him a ton of wiggle room to make what’s very clearly an important career decision.

“My voucher to get back into New Zealand is for a week after the fight. I have a week in Vegas doing whatever happens after the fight,” Hooker continued. “Then, I’m back in New Zealand, and time to look at things and reevaluate our situation and where we need to be training in the future.

“Yeah, I haven’t put too much thought into it as I have been dealing with the obstacles at hand and focusing on Nasrat. The way it’s looking, I can’t speak for my teammates, it’s looking like stationing away from New Zealand. Our hand is forced,” Hooker concluded.

Many of the top City Kickboxing athletes have also trained at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand, but that island has faced repeated lockdowns as well in its attempts to reopen. At the moment, the next move for City Kickboxing is unclear, but the stakes are high for the team’s UFC athletes.

Insomnia

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Slips, rips, and KO clips

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Knockdowns on knockdowns courtesy of Miguel Cotto:

Random Land

A beautiful landscape in Vietnam:

Midnight Music: Tonight, I checked out this covers album, which recreated The Velvet Underground’s classic debut LP with the help of a bunch of different musicians. About half of the covers were pretty similar to the originals while the rest were drastically different takes, which made for an interesting listen.

Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.