UFC Auckland: Dan Hooker says “handshake is off the table” before fight against Paul Felder

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Photo: Gary Vasquez, USA Today Sports
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Aukland — UFC on ESPN+ 26 takes place on Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Spark Arena in Aukland, New Zealand.

The card will be headlined by two top ten ranked lightweights, where sixth ranked Dan Hooker (19-8 MMA, 9-4 UFC) will take on fifth ranked Paul Felder (17-4 MMA, 9-4 UFC) in a five round main event.

Hooker first called out Felder back in February of 2018 in a post-fight interview. On Saturday, he gets what he asked for in a hometown fight against Felder and he looks to put on a show for the fans.

“I need this to be what the fans want it to be. I need this to be an exciting contest. I need him to be in there for 25 minutes and give me the best fight of his entire career, because it’s what my fans deserve, it’s what my hometown deserves,” Hooker told Submission Radio. “I’m not dragging a snooze fest down here, I’m coming to put on a show.”

Dan Hooker (left) calls out Paul Felder (right) while he’s interviewing him post-fight

Many fans have been anticipating this matchup after the two had an intense staredown during media day back in December.

The intensity stemmed from a post Felder made on his social media where he reposted a meme that was disrepecting Hooker’s family name, implying that he was a prostitite or some sort.

On Sunday, Feb. 16, Hooker spoke with Submission Radio to help promote the fight and talk about where the bad blood came from.

“You can’t insult a man’s family name and then expect him to take that as some kind of joke or as like a friendly banter,” said Hooker. “He’s crossed that line of respect, so then I’ll reciprocate and a lot of the gentlemanly things like a handshake before the fight is off the table.”

Hooker is the teammate of UFC champions Israel Adesanya (middleweight) and Alex Volkanovski (featherweight). With that being said, he has the necessary training partners around him to reach a championship level of fighting. If he can get an impressive win over Felder on Saturday, he may find himself one or two fights away from earning a title shot.

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