Dan Hooker "Hands Down" Wants Justin Gaethje Next

Dan Hooker hasn’t competed since a loss to Dustin Poirier in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Hooker and Hooker would like to fight Justin Gaethje when he returns to action.

Hooker also admits that he wanted to fight Michael Chandler, until Chandler lost his mystique by turning down fights.

“Hands down, I want the Gaethje fight,” Hooker told MMA Junkie. “Just to me, as a fan of the sport, watching it from the outside, having Chandler turn down the Ferguson opportunity in December kind of takes away a lot of that gung-ho mystique off of him. He was coming into the UFC from another organization saying, ‘I’ll fight anyone, I’m ready to go, I’m ready to step in for the title.’ He stands on the scale and essentially makes weight and that rules him out of a fight against Tony Ferguson which, you beat Tony Ferguson, you pretty much position yourself as that next guy in line for a title shot. For him to turn down that opportunity because he stepped on a scale and made weight, like how tough is it for this guy to make weight? For me, it’s not a difficult thing. Making weight for me is fairly straightforward, fairly easy. So that, to me, kinda takes a lot of the mystique off the guy. Him saying he’s ready to go, he’ll fight anyone, ‘Oh wait, I don’t want to fight Tony Ferguson.’ So even for me, fighting Chandler, it takes a lot of the hype that’s behind Chandler away, so it makes him less appealing to fight.”

Gaethje last competed at UFC 254, suffering a second round submission loss to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.

The lightweight contender is completely focused on fighting Gaethje at the moment.

“One hundred percent Justin Gaethje,” Hooker said. “Whenever he wants to go, that’s the fight I want. I feel like Chandler has lost the mystique around him, so it’s that Gaethje fight. I feel like that’s the fight that lights a fire under me. You watch him fight, the way he fights, the way he knocks people out, the way he finishes different opponents and you can feel the threat so it makes it very easy to train for, when you’re fighting such a dangerous opponent like that. It makes it very easy to get in the gym, it makes it very easy to train hard. When you don’t prepare for a fighter like that, who’s as exciting as that, who’s as threatening and dangerous as that, then you gotta drag yourself to the gym. You gotta push yourself through the hard sessions. But a fighter like Justin Gaethje, that’s an exciting fight to me and that’s an exciting fight for the fans. There’s no way that fight doesn’t deliver.”

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