Daniel Hooker: The Legend FC roster is stacked with sharks
Daniel Hooker: The Legend FC roster is stacked with sharks

Daniel Hooker: The Legend FC roster is stacked with sharks

Daniel Hooker talks to Inside MMA about training with former world champions and fighting fellow Kiwis.

Daniel Hooker talks to Inside MMA about training with former world champions and fighting fellow Kiwis.

With a reputation for producing tough and powerful fighters, our neighbours across the pond may have managed to unearth one of their best fighters yet. Despite being one of the more diminutive prospects to come out of New Zealand in recent time, Dan Hooker is looking to establish himself at the top of the lightweight pecking order here in Australia and he is well on his way to doing so after an impressive round two TKO stoppage over AFC lightweight champion Rusty McBride at AFC 3 in April.

Hooker’s beginning in the sport came through a friend who had been training and fighting as an amateur. Intrigued after watching an amateur fight, he began training and hasn’t taken a backward step since.

“After my first session I knew this was what I wanted to do and began training every day since. The progression into fighting felt natural, the added drive of competition is essential to improving as a fighter. It is also a chance to showcase all of your hard work to your friends and family.”

Having no prior experience in martial arts, Hooker found his transition into MMA easier than expected. He attributes his knowledge and proficiency in all facets of the MMA game to the much-heralded Strikeforce Gym in Auckland. Hooker is quick to praise the core group of world class trainers as well as the active fighters currently plying their trade at the gym.

“My coaches are former World Muay Thai champion Aaron Boyes and Karl Webber. I train with a number of champion MMA fighters such as Rod Macswain, Sam Brown, Pat Crawley and Gareth Ealey. The gym is also stacked with high level Muay Thai champions and BJJ Black-belt Jonathan.”

With his victory over the dangerous Rusty McBride at AFC 3, Hooker will strive to defend his newly acquired AFC lightweight title as well as fight his way to the top of Legends Fighting Championships, a promotion he has recently signed with.

“The LFC roster is stacked with sharks; anyone of them makes for a tough fight. I’m also sure AFC will find a worthy challenger and there’s a number of Kiwis nipping at my heals who I’d like to fight at home. I pride myself on having a tidy backyard.”

As a fighter competing in both Australia and New Zealand, Hooker sees a lot of potential for the sport of MMA in this region of the world. He is quick to acknowledge the growth and improvements the sport has made in the past few years and recognises the achievements of local fighters on the world stage.

“MMA is growing rapidly with a number of fighters from both countries performing well on the world stage. The level of improvement in coaching and training partners is evident with a number of Kiwi and Australian UFC fighters choosing to train at home rather than having to travel and train in the US. It’s an inspiration to see that home-grown talent can not only compete but excel at a high level.”

Despite the sport moving forward in recent years, the boy from Auckland also sees some discrepancies between New Zealand when compared to their Aussie neighbours.

“There’s also so many tough guys coming through from this part of the world, NZ especially has so much potential as the sport is yet to be accepted as mainstream. Getting sponsorship in NZ is very difficult at this stage, with a number of businesses still unwilling to have their names associated with the sport. This makes it difficult to train full time at home, but over time I hope this will change.”

With his recent success, 2012 promises to be a huge year for the Kiwi as he looks to compete in various organisations across both sides of the Tasman while training vigorously to improve his game.

“I’m looking forward to fighting in Legends and staying as active as possible. I’m looking forward to spending some time training in Thailand with some of my gym mates in the near future. Also I’m planning to travel to the south island to train with our brothers at Strikeforce Canterbury. “

A veteran of 10 professional MMA fights at the tender age of 22, the sky is truly the limit for the young Kiwi. With his best still to come, hopefully it won’t be too long before he becomes a household name with Aussie MMA fans as well.

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