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Dan Hooker shuts down ‘great guy’ Paddy Pimblett: ‘I do whatever I want to that kid’

MMA: UFC 266 Weigh-Ins Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Hooker has made it clear that he is a fan of rising lightweight sensation Paddy Pimblett, but “Hangman” doesn’t think the English fighter stands a chance with him in a potential matchup.

Pimblett, who takes on Jared Gordon tomorrow night (Sat., Dec. 10, 2022) at UFC 282 live on ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, has taken the promotion by storm since his debut last year. “The Baddy” is currently 3-0 with two submissions and one knockout. He has also talked a big game along the way which has put a target on his back.

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UFC’s 2023 PPV DEBUT! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicks off its New Year pay-per-view (PPV) campaign on Sat., Jan. 21, 2023, with a battle for the vacant Light Heavyweight crown between former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Glover Teixeira, looking to stop the momentum of surging No. 7-seeded up-and-comer, Jamahal Hill. In the co-main event of UFC 283, which will take place inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of the greatest rivalries in promotional history resumes as Flyweight kingpin, Deiveson Figueiredo, battles interim belt keeper, Brandon Moreno, for a fourth (and likely final) time.

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Most fighters are split on whether or not Pimblett can make a real impact in a crowded lightweight division. The 27-year-old fighter has certainly looked the part, but Pimblett hasn’t necessarily encountered the best of competition. As the matchups get harder some believe that the holes in Pimblett’s game will begin to show.

Hooker, who has been fighting some of the best lightweights in the world over the past five years, is a huge fan of Pimblett and what he has accomplished over the past twelve months. However, “Hangman” doesn’t believe Pimblett would stand a chance against him if the promotion ever booked the two to fight.

“I think he’s a great guy,” Hooker told The Mac Life. “I like his persona, I like everything. Very aggressive, puts on entertaining fights, but let’s all be honest, he’s getting taken care of, you know what I mean? He’s not getting tough matchups just yet.

“I wouldn’t want to fight him. I like him. I don’t want to fight him and make him look silly. I don’t want to burst the bubble and that’s just being honest. I think that’s a bad move [to fight me]. Hand on my heart, I think I do whatever I want to that kid.”

If Pimblett is able to push his record to 4-0 this weekend the promotion would likely book him against a ranked opponent his next time out, especially if the PPV sells well. That could lead Pimblett to Hooker’s doorstep sometime in 2023.

“He’s on a good trajectory, leave him alone,” Hooker said. “Give him the fights that you’re gonna give him, [I’m] not the fight. I like the kid. Let’s leave him.

“I know he’s talked s—t about me in the past and I’m just like, he can just ... I’m not that easy to rile up.”

As for an official prediction for UFC 282 this weekend, Hooker believes Pimblett will be able to rise to the occasion and cash in on his UFC PPV debut.

“I think Gordon’s a great fighter,” Hooker said. “I feel like Gordon’s got a lot of good wins, he’s a pretty skillful fighter. I just feel in terms of like the moment and being able to handle the energy and the pressure of packed arena, co-main event, pay-per-view ... I feel like to leave it, Paddy’s just great at handling that energy.

“I feel like skill for skill, Gordon beats him in the gym nine times out of 10, but under those lights, pay-per-view, sold out, the people chanting, I feel like Paddy just handles that energy and can direct it at his opponent a lot better. So, I think Paddy wins.”

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 282 fight card right HERE, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard (on ESPN2/ESPN+) at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

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