UFC Auckland Report: Dan Hooker defeats Paul Felder in Five-Round War

On Saturday, the UFC held a Fight Night card from New Zealand featuring a five-round war between lightweights Dan Hooker and Paul Felder going the full five rounds.

UFC Auckland Report: Dan Hooker defeats Paul Felder in Five-Round War

By: Eric Marcotte

On Saturday night the UFC returned to the Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. This marked the first time the UFC had held an event in New Zealand since a Fight Night card in June of 2017. UFC lightweight contenders Paul Felder and Dan Hooker met in the main event of the night, with both fighters looking to advance into a top-five ranking in the division. Felder came into this fight riding a five-fight win streak at 155lbs, and Hooker had won six of his last seven bouts, culminating with a decisive victory over Al Iaquinta. Second from the top, Jimmy Crute and Michał Oleksiejczuk faced off in a light heavyweight matchup.

Commentary for the card was provided by the team of John Gooden and Dan Hardy. Performance bonuses were awarded to Jimmy Crute and Priscila Cachoeira. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Paul Felder and Dan Hooker. The reported attendance for the event was 10,025, with a gate of $ 1,239,625.

QUICK RESULTS:

*Priscila Cachoeira def. Shana Dobson by KO at 0:40 of Round 1

*Angela Hill def. Looma Lookboonmee by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

*Kai Kara-France def. Tyson Nam by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

*Song Kenan def. Callan Potter by KO at 2:20 of Round 1

*Jake Matthews def. Emil Meek by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Jalin Turner def. Joshua Culibao by TKO at 3:01 of Round 2

*Zubaira Tukhugov def. Kevin Aguilar by TKO at 3:21 of Round 1

*Brad Riddell def. Magomed Mustafaev by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

*Marcos Rogerio De Lima def. Ben Sosoli by KO at 1:28 of Round 1

*Xiaonan Yan def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision (30-26 all)

*Jimmy Crute def. Michal Oleksiejczuk by kimura at 3:29 of Round 1

*Dan Hooker def. Paul Felder by split decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48)

SHANA DOBSON (3-3, 125.5) VS PRISCILA CACHOEIRA (8-3, 126) – FLYWEIGHT

Cachoeira was fighting wildly from the get-go, and as she rushed forward, she threw a right uppercut that floored Dobson, and the fight was stopped less than a minute into the first round.

WINNER: Priscila Cachoeira by KO at 0:40 of Round 1

Cachoeira was in desperate need of a victory after a rough start to her UFC career, and she picked up a much-needed highlight-reel knockout here. Cachoeira is now 1-3 in the UFC, and coincidently, her opponent Shana Dobson fell to 1-3 with this loss.

ANGELA HILL (11-7, 115) VS LOOMA LOOKBOONMEE (4-1, 115) – STRAWWEIGHT

Hill was busy on offense, as she typically is. She found a home for her right-hand multiple times, particularly when she would rush forward. Lookboonmee’s best moments in the round came from her leg kicks, although they did not seem to phase Hill early. Hill ended the round with a takedown, and I thought she won the first five minutes convincingly.

Lookboonmee continued to work the legs and body of Hill in the second round. The round was fairly even on the feet, but Hill found an advantage in the grappling department, threatening submissions and controlling Lookboonmee from the bottom. This round was closer than the first, but I thought Hill edged it out.

Hill was slowing by the third round, and Lookboonmee seemed to be more confident with her offense. She continued to throw teep kicks to the body of Angela Hill, and in response, Hill searched for a takedown, to no avail. They exchanged elbows in the clinch, and both fighters landed straight rights towards the end of the round. I scored the fight 29-28 Hill.

WINNER: Angela Hill by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

This was Hill’s sixth fight and forth win in less than a year. This was a close fight, but I thought Hill looked a step ahead early, and it took Lookboonmee a while to really find her groove. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hill stated that she was ready for another fight in his post-fight interview.

KAI KARA-FRANCE (20-8, 125.5) VS TYSON NAM (18-10-1, 125) – FLYWEIGHT

Kara-France looked good early here, mixing up his offense and simply putting out a higher output then Nam in the first round. Nam had a moment towards the end of the first where he connected with a clean left hook as Kara-France ducked in. Kara-France ended the round with a nice elbow as they broke from the clinch. 10-9 Kara-France.

Nam ate another elbow to kick off the second. Kara-France changed levels in search of a takedown, but Nam defended it well. Nam continued to land big shots on occasion, but Kara-France was out-landing him significantly, making it tough for Nam to gain ground in the fight, or on the scorecards. I had it 20-18 for Kara-France going into the final round.

The third round was more of the same, and I thought this was a pretty clear 30-27 for Kai Kara-France.

WINNER: Kai Kara-France by unanimous decision (30-27 all)

Kara-France looked sharp here, and he fought at a high pace for all fifteen minutes. Nam had his moments, but couldn’t piece together his offense with enough consistency to really seize the momentum at any point in the fight. With this win, Kara-France is now 4-1 in the UFC.

SONG KENAN (18-8, 171) VS CALLAN POTTER (15-5, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT

Potter threw a nice combination of strikes and took Song down. Song escaped the position, and he began to throw and connect with some heavy shots, dropping Potter with a right hook, and then putting him away with a follow up left hand.

WINNER: Song Kenan by KO at 2:20 of Round 1

When Song let loose with his strikes, you could tell that the fight was not going to go much longer. He was so accurate in those last twenty seconds and clearly has legitimate power. Song Kenan is now 4-1 in the UFC.

JAKE MATTHEWS (15-4, 170.5) VS EMIL MEEK (9-4, 1 NC, 171) – WELTERWEIGHT

Meek began the fight with a powerful leg kick, and Matthews quickly took him to the ground. Meek made his way back to the feet but ate an elbow from Matthews. Matthews connected with a left uppercut as Meek was on one leg, and knocked him to the ground. Matthews moved back into top position on the ground and controlled Meek in that position for the remainder of the round. Clear 10-9 for Jake Matthews.

Matthews landed a pair of uppercuts and a knee directly to the chin of Meek early in the second and proceeded to take him down once more. Matthews quickly transitioned to Meek’s back. This next exchange was wild: as Meek worked back to his feet, he landed a pair of knees’ that looked as though they hurt Matthews, and proceeded to throw elbows until Matthews disengaged with the grappling. Matthews responded with a spinning elbow that landed flush, and both men swung wildly until Matthews took Meek back to the ground. This was a wild end to the round, but I still gave Matthews the edge.

The calf kicks from Meek were beginning to have a clear effect on Matthews. Meek stuffed a takedown attempt, and he appeared to be the fresher fighter at this point. Matthews continued to look for the takedown throughout the round, but Meek’s takedown defense was on point this round and made him pay with a number of knees and elbows. Meek won this round, but Matthews did enough in the first two rounds to get the nod.

WINNER: Jake Matthews by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

I thought this fight was really entertaining. Jake Matthews looked sharp on the feet and dominated the early rounds with his grappling. Meek improved as the fight went along, and momentum was on his side by the third round. I thought both men raised their stock here.

JOSHUA CULIBAO (8-0, 155.5) VS JALIN TURNER (8-5, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Culibao attempted a takedown early, and Turner reversed the attempt into a takedown of his own. Turner began to throw strikes in combination to the body and may have hurt Culibao with a knee to the body. In response, Culibao shot again and found himself ensnared in a one-armed guillotine attempt. Culibao escaped but continued to eat numerous body shots to end the round

Not long into the second round, Culibao appeared to twist his ankle against the cage, and Turner wasted no time taking his off-balance opponent down and rained down strikes until referee Mark Craig stopped the fight.

WINNER: Jalin Turner by TKO at 3:01 of Round 2

This was a dominant performance from start to finish for Jalin Turner. He used his size to his advantage, and I thought his bodywork was especially effective. Turner is now 2-2 in the UFC.

ZUBAIRA TUKHUGOV (18-4-1, 145) VS KEVIN AGUILAR (17-2, 145) – FEATHERWEIGHT

After about three minutes of feeling each other out on the feet, Tukhugov dropped Aguilar with a left hook. Aguilar quickly bounced back to his feet, but he was noticeably hurt, and Tukhugov swarmed him with strikes, dropping him with another left hook, and not long thereafter the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Zubaira Tukhugov by TKO at 3:21 of Round 1

A great finish for Tukhugov, whose last win was in December of 2015. He dedicated this win to his grandfather, who recently passed away. Tukhugov is now 4-1-1 in the UFC.

MAGOMED MUSTAFAEV (14-2, 156) VS BRAD RIDDELL (7-1, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Riddell got a huge reaction from the Auckland crowd.

Riddell dropped Mustafaev with a right hook early in the first round. Mustafaev recovered quickly and spent the final three minutes of the round wrestling Riddell against the cage. He was able to get Riddell down a couple of times throughout the round, but Riddell found his way back up quickly enough every time. I scored the first round 10-9 Riddell.

Both men landed some hard strikes in the second round. Riddell was the aggressor and was landing at a higher rate early the round, but to his credit, Mustafaev evened the striking numbers by the end of the round and spent the final minute and a half of the round controlling Riddell with his wrestling. This was a tough round to score, but I thought Riddell landed the biggest hits, and I narrowly gave him the round.

Mustafaev threw a jumping knee, but Riddell connected with a hook on Mustafaev’s way down that hurt him, and in response, Mustafaev immediately re-engaged in the grappling. Riddell shrugged him off but ate a spinning back fist that cut him open. Both fighters found moments of success with their grappling towards the end of the fight, but it was Riddell who ended the fight on top, and I scored the fight 30-27 in his favor.

WINNER: Brad Riddell by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

I thought this was a fun fight, and the crowd was heavily behind Brad Riddell. How you score this fight will really come down to how heavily you weigh the takedowns that Mustafaev accumulated throughout the fight. Riddell took a shot at Kevin Lee in his post-fight interview and called out Alexander Hernandez in his post-fight interview. He is now 2-0 in the UFC.

BEN SOSOLI (7-2, 2 NC, 264) VS MARCOS ROGERIO DE LIMA (16-6-1, 257) – HEAVYWEIGHT

These guys started trading wildly almost immediately. Honestly, I am shocked that neither of these heavyweights was knocked out in the first minute given the way they were fighting. As Sosoli moved forward, De Lima connected with a pair of right hooks that dropped Sosoli, and a looping left hand that caused the referee to stop the fight.

WINNER: Marcos Rogerio De Lima by KO at 1:28 of Round 1

This was about as entertaining a ninety-second fight as you are going to get. It didn’t take five seconds for these guys to start swinging wildly, and it is a testament to both of their respective chins that this fight went longer than ten seconds. With this win, De Lima is now 6-4 in the UFC.

KAROLINA KOWALKIEWICZ (12-5, 115.5) VS XIAONAN YAN (11-1, 1 NC, 116) – STRAWWEIGHT

Both women had a high output of strikes in this first round. They traded in the pocket repeatedly, and Yan appeared to be getting the better of the exchanges. Yan landed a combination of strikes that seemed to give Kowalkiewicz issues with her right eye. Yan took Kowalkiewicz down near the end of the round. I thought Yan clearly won the round, 10-9 on my scorecard.

The commentators stated that Kowalkiewicz told her corner in between rounds that she was seeing triple. The doctor was brought in to check on the right eye of Kowalkiewicz and ultimately allowed her to continue. Yan was aggressive early in the second and opened up a cut on above that right eye of Kowalkiewicz. She continued to do some serious damage with her boxing throughout the round. This round was not particularly competitive, and I have to question Kowalkiewicz’s corner allowing her to continue fighting at this point. I thought this round was a 10-8 for Xiaonan Yan.

Yan continued her beatdown into the third, including a beautiful left high kick to Kowalkiewicz. Yan took Karolina down and Kowalkiewicz attempted a heel hook. Yan worked her way on top and finished the round strongly. I scored the fight 30-26 for Xiaonan Yan.

WINNER: Xiaonan Yan by unanimous decision (20-26 all)

Unquestionably a dominant win for Xiaonan Yan, who beat Kowalkiewicz everywhere the fight went. If Kowalkiewicz did, in fact, tell her corner that she was seeing triple, I heavily disagree with sending her out for the next two rounds, given that her game was clearly compromised early by this injury. I thought this was Xiaonan Yan’s best performance yet, and she is now an impressive 5-0 in the UFC.

JIMMY CRUTE (10-1, 206) VS MICHAL OLEKSIEJCZUK (14-3, 1 NC, 206) – LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT

Crute took Oleksiejczuk down ten seconds into the first. The first three minutes of the round was all Crute, as he repeatedly returned Oleksiejczuk to the mat. Crute eventually kept Oleksiejczuk grounded, and moved into side control. Crute quickly found the kimura, forcing the first-round submission.

WINNER: Jimmy Crute by kimura at 3:29 of Round 1

Jimmy Crute really had a perfect performance here, controlling every second of the fight and getting an early finish. This was a great way to rebound from his first professional loss, and Crute voiced his intention of getting even with Misha Cirkunov in the future. He is now 3-1 in the UFC.

PAUL FELDER (17-4, 155.5) VS DAN HOOKER (20-8, 156) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Hooker refused to touch gloves with Felder to start the fight.

Dan Hooker began the fight with a number of calf kicks. Felder connected with a right hand down the middle. Hooker continued to work the lead leg of Felder, which was beginning to bruise. Felder knocked Hooker off balance with a leg kick of his own. Both fighters had their moments in this first round, but I thought Hooker’s leg kicks did the most damage and won him the round.

Felder’s right eye had swelled heavily between rounds. Hooker was using his range well here, fighting behind his jab and low kicks. They exchanged strong hooks. Felder found more success as the round went on, landing some low kicks and spinning attacks of his own. Hooker landed some solids shots as the round concluded. Felder ended the round strong, and I narrowly gave him the second round.

Beautiful uppercut from Felder in the clinch early in the third. Hooker continued to find a home for his jab. Felder had begun to turn the momentum in regards to the leg kicks and landed a solid spinning kick to the body as well. Hooker had really abandoned the low kick in this round, but his jab was lighting Felder up, and I had him up 29-28 going into the fourth.

Felder was aggressive out the gate in round four, landing a number of hard calf kicks. Felder connected with a 1-2 that seemed to hurt Hooker, and Hooker shot for a takedown in response. Felder defended it well, but Hooker controlled him against the cage for a period of time. The right hooks were finding a home for Paul Felder in this round. Hooker attempted another takedown, and Felder responded with one of his trademark elbows. Felder won this round, and I had it all tied up going into the final round.

This final round was razor close, with both fighters beaten and tired, but still trading. Hooker finally succeeded in taking Paul Felder down with about a minute left and held him down for a short period of time. Felder kept Hooker from advancing and made it back to his feet before time expired. This was such a close fight, but I narrowly scored it 48-47 for Dan Hooker.

WINNER: Dan Hooker by split decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48)

This was a great fight, and it really could of went either way. The momentum swung back and forth repeatedly throughout this fight, and it came down to the final round. Hooker called out Justin Gaethje, which is certainly an exciting fight, and if that fight were to be made, the winner would certainly be in line for a lightweight title shot.

In his post-fight interview, an emotional Paul Felder implied that this could be his final fight. If this was Felder’s final fight, this was a terrific performance to end his career on, really showcasing the toughness he is known for. If he does continue fighting, however, I’d love to see the trilogy fight with Edson Barboza.