UFC Fight Night Report: Dustin Poirier defeats Dan Hooker in an all-timer

Eric Marcotte's review of Saturday's UFC Fight Night card with a classic fight involving Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker in the lightweight main event.

UFC Fight Night Report: Dustin Poirier defeats Dan Hooker in an all-timer

On Saturday night the UFC held its fifth consecutive event at the Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. This card was headlined by a lightweight bout between contenders, Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker. Poirier came into this fight following a defeat at the hands of Khabib Nurmagomedov this past September. Before that, Poirier had been on an extremely impressive win streak, where he picked up decisive victories over four men who have worn UFC gold, in Max Holloway, Eddie Alvarez, Justin Gaethje, and Anthony Pettis. Hooker had won his last three bouts, including a split decision win over Paul Felder earlier this year. In the talent stacked lightweight division, both men needed a win here to keep themselves in title contention. In the co-main event, Mike Perry faced Mickey Gall, in a fight that picked up a great deal of attention on social media due to Perry’s decision to fight with only his girlfriend in his corner.

The commentary team for this card consisted of Jon Anik, Dominick Cruz, and Michael Bisping. Performance bonuses were awarded to Kay Hansen and Julian Erosa. Fight of the Night bonuses went out to Dustin Poirier and Dan Hooker.

QUICK RESULTS:

*Youssef Zalal def. Jordan Griffin by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Kay Hansen def. Jinh Yu Frey by armbar at 2:26 of Round 3

*Tanner Boser def. Philipe Lins by KO at 2:41 of Round 1

*Khama Worthy def. Luis Pena by guillotine at 2:53 of Round 3

*Julian Erosa def. Sean Woodson by D’Arce choke at 2:44 of Round 3

*Takashi Sato def. Jason Witt by TKO 0:48 of Round 1

*Brendan Allen def. Kyle Daukaus by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)

*Maurice Greene def. Gian Villante by arm triangle at 3:44 of Round 3

*Mike Perry def. Mickey Gall by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

*Dustin Poirier def. Dan Hooker by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-46)

JORDAN GRIFFIN (18-7, 145) VS YOUSSEF ZALAL (8-2, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT

Griffin was blitzing Zalal early, rushing forward with combinations, forcing Zalal to retreat. Griffin eventually shot for a takedown, but Zalal defended it well and kept Griffin from taking his back against the cage. Zalal turned things around and began to rack up some control time by pressing Griffin against the cage. Griffin managed to take Zalal down with seconds remaining in the round. 10-9 Griffin.

Zalal was a bit more active in the second round, and he hurt Griffin with a straight right to the body. Griffin shot for a takedown and took Zalal’s back as he stood up. Zalal turned out of it against the cage, and Griffin was starting to look tired. Zalal was unable to capitalize, as he slipped, and Griffin took the fight right back to the ground. Zalal returned to his feet but chose to reengage in the grappling, attempting to take Griffin down. He was unsuccessful. Tough round to score, but I had it 20-18 Griffin going into the final round.

Once again, Zalal began the round by piecing Griffin up on the feet. Griffin changed levels and took Zalal down. Zalal escaped back to the feet and resumed his attack. His jab was finding a home every time he threw it. Zalal landed a pair of solid knees, forcing Griffin to shoot again. Griffin didn’t get it, but once again Zalal began to search for a takedown, as his corner begged him to disengage from the clinch. This was a clear Zalal round, but I saw the fight 29-28 Griffin.

WINNER: Youssef Zalal by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

This was a very close fight, and I don’t think anyone could argue with either result. I thought Zalal looked like the better fighter, but some of his decision making throughout the fight was suspect when he had such a significant advantage on the feet. Zalal is now 2-0 in the UFC.

The UFC aired a video package honoring Dustin Poirier, as he was announced as the inaugural recipient of the Forrest Griffin Community Award for his numerous charitable efforts, most notably The Good Fight Foundation, which Poirier founded. Poirier will receive a $25,000 donation for a charity of his choice. They stated that Poirier would be honored later in the year at the 2020 UFC Hall of Fame ceremony, which will presumably be headlined by Georges St-Pierre.

KAY HANSEN (6-3, 115.5) VS JINH YU FREY (9-4, 115.5) – STRAWWEIGHT

Frey connected with a solid left hand early. She was having decent success landing counter strikes whenever Hansen attacked. Hansen shot for a takedown at one point and just ate a beautiful combination that ended with a clean head kick. Frey began to work the body late in the round. 10-9 Frey.

The commentators were having some fun at the expense of one individual who bet 37k on a Kay Hansen win. Hansen must have heard them because it was at this point, she managed to successfully take Frey down to the ground, and began to work from half guard. She controlled the entirety of the round from this position. 19-19 going into the third.

Frey defended a combination of takedown attempts from Hansen, but as Frey defended one of the attempts, Hansen grabbed the arm that Frey was using as her base (for lack of a better term) to keep herself up, and transitioned to an armbar. Frey attempted to defend the submission, but Hansen threatened a triangle, forcing Frey deeper into the armbar, and picking up the third-round submission.

WINNER: Kay Hansen by armbar at 2:26 of Round 3

After a rough first round, Hansen adjusted her game plan and controlled the remainder of the fight with her grappling. I thought the finishing sequence was very slick, and this was a solid UFC debut for Hansen. Frey looked solid herself, and I’ll be interested to see more from her in the future. 

PHILIPE LINS (14-4, 234) VS TANNER BOSER (17-6-1, 235) – HEAVYWEIGHT

Boser was throwing a high output of leg kicks in the opening minutes. He threatened the overhand right numerous times, and finally connected with one that rocked Lins, and proceeded to land six consecutive strikes that put Lins lights out.

WINNER: Tanner Boser by KO at 2:41 of Round 1

Brutal knockout victory from Boser here, who is now 2-1 in the UFC. He looked pretty good for the short duration of this fight, and his accuracy in that finishing sequence was impressive. Boser called out Maurice Greene in his post-fight interview. Just as a side-note, he genuinely sounded good here. He had some fire behind his words, which is always nice to see.

LUIS PENA (8-2, 155) VS KHAMA WORTHY (15-6, 154.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT

Worthy was throwing some powerful kicks to open up the round. He was looking sharp early in the fight and appeared to have a noticeable power advantage. Pena was having more success as the round continued, and their striking output was very similar in the latter portion of the round. Worthy was landing some solid strikes to the body. Pena landed a very nice left hand, and they exchanged kicks to the leg to end the round. 10-9 Worthy.

Pena took Worthy down quickly into the second round and seamlessly transitioned to top mount, and then attempted an arm triangle. Worthy escaped the submission but gave up his back. Late in the round, Khama managed to work himself back to his feet, but Pena took him right back down. He didn’t get the finish, but he certainly evened up the scorecards going into the final round.

Worthy defended an early takedown attempt from Pena. Both men were firing off hard shots to the body. Worthy sprawled beautifully on another Pena takedown attempt. Pena closed the distance after an exchange in the pocket and pursued another takedown, but Worthy defended it once again, and trapped Pena in a tight standing guillotine, forcing Pena to submit.

WINNER: Khama Worthy by guillotine at 2:53 of Round 3

Two fights into his UFC tenure, Worthy has quite the pair of highlight finishes. I don’t know how many people predicted that Worthy would pick up a submission win coming into this one, but this is a fighter that isn’t bothered by the odds. Both men had their moments throughout the fight, but I was impressed by the diversity of Worthy’s striking throughout the fight, and he seems like a very exciting fighter. He is now on a seven-fight win streak.

SEAN WOODSON (7-0, 149) VS JULIAN EROSA (23-9, 149.5) – CATCHWEIGHT

Woodson was very active in the first round, throwing 1-2’s in high volume, and switching stances every couple seconds. Erosa got off some decent body shots and low kicks, but he having trouble dealing with the reach and awkward striking from Woodson. His left hand couldn’t miss, and Erosa didn’t seem to have any answers. He attempted a takedown at one point, but Woodson defended the attempt. Clear 10-9 round for Woodson.

Erosa was doing a better job of pressuring Woodson into the cage, and trading in the pocket. They were both landing solid strikes, but Erosa was mixing in elbows with his punches and Woodson was looking uncomfortable on the backfoot. Erosa kept up the pressure as the round continued, and this was looking like an entirely different fight from the first round. His body shots were looking especially impressive. Woodson was still having success with his jab, and he landed a solid uppercut as the round ended. This was a very entertaining round, and I gave the edge to Erosa.

As Erosa rushed forward (somewhat recklessly) he got dropped by a perfectly timed right hook. He recovered almost immediately and got right back to the game plan. Erosa shot for a takedown that Woodson defended.  He kept pursuing the takedown though, and eventually got him down in the center of the octagon. Woodson attempted to scramble out, but Erosa transitioned to a D’Arce choke as Woodson returned to the feet, and he locked it in completely, and Woodson was forced to tap out.

WINNER: Julian Erosa by D’Arce choke at 2:44 of Round 3

Erosa took this fight on Wednesday and was a massive underdog despite his edge inexperience. After the first round, those odds looked about right, but Erosa switched up the game plan, and the pressure he put on Woodson completely changed the fight. Just when things were looking his way, he got dropped, and yet he recovered and got the finish minutes later. Just a great fight, and a fantastic performance from Julian Erosa, who was cut from the UFC last year after losing his last three fights, and desperately needed this win.

JASON WITT (17-5, 171) VS TAKASHI SATO (15-3, 170.5) – WELTERWEIGHT

Sato quickly dropped Witt with a straight left, and Witt looked out of it. He tried to recover, but Sato did not give him an opportunity, continuing to throw strikes until Witt covered up and the fight was stopped.

WINNER: Takashi Sato by TKO 0:48 of Round 1

This was a quick finish for Takashi Sato against Witt, who took this fight on super short notice. There is not too much to breakdown from this performance, but Sato definitely has legitimate power and is now 2-1 in the UFC.

BRENDAN ALLEN (14-3, 185.5) VS KYLE DAUKAUS (9-0, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT

Both men landed powerful kicks to the body to start the fight. Daukaus landed a clean left hand and shot for a single leg, but Allen floored him with a huge knee. Allen was landing some solid strikes on the ground, and Daukaus gave up his back. Allen was looking for the choke, but Daukaus worked out of it. Daukaus almost managed to turn things around and take Allen’s back, but Allen found his way back on top and landed an elbow that opened Daukaus up to end the round. 10-9 Allen.

Daukaus was doing pretty well on the feet to begin the second round, but he shot for a takedown that Allen defended by threatening a guillotine, which allowed him to sweep his way back on top. Allen landed another huge elbow. Allen eventually attempted a guillotine, which Daukaus escaped and began to work from half guard. Daukaus was landing some elbows of his own, but Allen reversed their positions once more, and he got to work at the end of the round. He was messing Daukaus up with elbows. They returned to their feet with seconds remaining, and Allen dropped him with a left hand as the horn sounded. Daukaus would need a finish to win this fight.

Daukaus landed a combination and took Allen down to begin the third round, and he proceeded to take him down. He maneuvered his way to Allen’s back with three minutes to work. Both of these guys were bleeding, and it looked like Allen was having trouble seeing out of his right eye. Daukaus pursued the rear-naked choke for the remainder of the majority of the round, but couldn’t sink it in. With about twenty seconds left in the round, Allen escaped the position and just blitzed Daukaus with strikes, trying to make up ground and ensure a 10-8 was not in the books. He was successful in that regard, and I scored the fight 29-28 for Brendan Allen.

WINNER: Brendan Allen by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 30-27)

The judge who scored the final round for Kyle Daukaus lost his mind, but that aside, I agreed with the decision. This was another fantastic fight and a real bloodbath. Allen called out Ian Heinisch in his post-fight interview. He is now on a seven-fight win streak and is 3-0 in the UFC.

MAURICE GREENE (8-4, 255) VS GIAN VILLANTE (17-11, 255) – HEAVYWEIGHT

Villante looked like he was enjoying that heavyweight diet. Greene was throwing several kicks to the lead leg and body of Villante. Villante responded with somebody kicks of his own. They both landed several kicks to the leg. That was pretty much the round. Greene landed more strikes, but Villante’s looked more significant.

Greene was throwing in combination regularly in the second round, which was a notable adjustment. Both men continued to throw a ton of low kicks, and Villante’s appeared to be adding up. Again, not a great round.

In round three, Villante swung with a right hook that Greene felt. Greene poked Villante in the eye, which paused the action momentarily. When the fight resumed, Villante landed a left hook that dropped Greene, and he began to let loose with right hands and elbows. Greene survived the exchange but was trapped in the bottom position. Out of nowhere, Greene locked in a choke from bottom, and Villante tapped out.

WINNER: Maurice Greene by arm triangle at 3:44 of Round 3

This was not a great fight, but the finish was certainly something. Greene was very emotional in his post-fight interview, and couldn’t talk. After back to back losses, he needed this win, and he noted that it felt like his job was on the line. Greene accepted Boser’s callout from earlier in the night.

MIKE PERRY (13-6, 171) VS MICKEY GALL (6-2, 170) – WELTERWEIGHT

Mike Perry was throwing some heavy shots from the get-go, and Gall was doing his best to circle and avoid Perry’s shots. Gall connected with a kick to that body that Perry had to feel. Gall was landing some impressive counter strikes as Perry moved forwards. They had some dangerous exchanges in the pocket, and to his credit, Gall was keeping up with Perry on the feet. In an unexpected turn of events, Perry slammed Gall to the ground and took his back. Perry transitioned into mount as the round concluded. Very tough round to score, but I gave the edge to Perry.

Perry wasn’t setting up his strikes, which allowed Gall to counter effectively. Gall attempted to take Perry down, but Perry defended the attempt and proceeded to take Gall down himself. Perry had success here, landing some decent ground and pound strikes before Gall escaped to the feet. Gall was getting the better of the exchanges on the feet, which is something I definitely wouldn’t have called going into this fight. That being said, Perry eventually found the big strike he was looking for, dropping Gall with a pair of right hands. Perry got on top of him and ended the round with a pair of big elbows, but couldn’t get the finish. 20-18 Perry.

Gall was slowing down by the third round, and Perry was able to land in combination at this point. Perry was looking much fresher at this point, and he was starting to find a home for almost everything he was throwing. Gall attempted to roll for a leg at one point, and Perry capitalized, landing on top of him and eventually working his way into top mount. He went back to those elbows he had success with earlier, Gall survived until the end of the fight. I scored the fight 30-27 for Mike Perry.

WINNER: Mike Perry by unanimous decision (29-28 all)

Going into this fight, many people viewed it as a mismatch in favor of Perry, and while that may have been the case, Gall put up a solid fight for a round and a half. Gall has made drastic improvements to his stand-up game, but Perry himself has drastically improved his wrestling since his UFC debut, and he controlled the grappling. He looked like he was significantly stronger than Gall, and whenever Gall tried to scramble or roll, Perry just strong-manned him. He expressed his interest in building a team around him, so I assume we won’t see him with just his girlfriend in his corner again, as entertaining as that was.

DUSTIN POIRIER (25-6, 156) VS DAN HOOKER (20-8, 155.5) – LIGHTWEIGHT

They traded kicks to begin the fight. Hooker landed a slick left hand. Hooker was throwing a lot of kicks to the leg early in the first, and after about two minutes Poirier was feeling them. Poirier changed levels and attempted a takedown that Hooker fought off. Poirier landed a trio of kicks to the body and a big right hand. They exchanged some hard shots in the pocket against the cage. Both men were digging into the body. Very entertaining first round. 10-9 Hooker, on my scorecard.

Poirier cracked Hooker with a couple of hard shots, and Hooker responded in kind, backing Poirier up and landing a hard knee to the head. Poirier shot for a takedown and Hooker defended it, and then they just started trading wildly in the pocket. I can’t believe either of them survived that exchange. Both of these guys were landing shots that looked like fight enders. Hooker was busted open under both his eyes, and Poirier seemed to be cut under his right eye. They continued to firebombs at each other. Hooker’s best weapon was his hooks that kept landing when Poirier moved forward. Hooker stunned him with a combination, and just rushed forward, landing shot after shot, and somehow Poirier survived to the end of the round. This had to be the round of the year. 20-18 for Dan Hooker on my scorecard.

Both these men had to have been exhausted going into the third round, but there was no quit in either man. Poirier was starting to tee off on Hooker, and you could see it adding up on Dan’s face. Hooker shot for a takedown and Dustin threw up a guillotine. It looked like it was close to being finished, but Hooker escaped the submission. Poirier was doing good work off his back, threatening submissions, and landing elbows. Poirier eventually used the cage to get up and landed a pair of bombs that Hooker just ate. 29-28 Hooker on my scorecard.

Poirier landed a pair of solid jabs, and Hooker took him down once again. Poirier popped back to his feet, but Hooker jumped on his back in the scramble. Poirier escaped it, and Hooker immediately shot for another one. Poirier got right back up once again, and this time it was Poirier who took Hooker down. Poirier moved to his back and started throwing down left hands. Poirier transitioned to an armbar attempt but just couldn’t find the angle. Hooker had a dominant position with about thirty seconds remaining and returned to his feet. He shot for another takedown and Poirier jumped up for a guillotine one more time. Hooker slipped out of it and ended the round on top. All tied up going into the final round for me.

These fighters were exhausted. Poirier connected with a few left hands. Dustin was finding a home for everything he was throwing at this point, and he shrugged off a takedown from Hooker and landed another big left hand. Hooker succeeded on his next takedown attempt, but once again, Poirier had little trouble returning to the feet. At this point, Hooker was desperately searching for takedowns, but Poirier was seeing them coming. Hooker just had nothing left in the tank, and Dustin Poirier took the final round of this fight. 48-47 Poirier.

WINNER: Dustin Poirier by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-46)

This was one of the greatest fights in the history of the lightweight division, and the second round is a shoo-in for a round of the year. This was just a tremendous fight and gave Zhang Weili and Joanna Jędrzejczyk a run for their money. The fight was completely insane early, but Poirier just had more in the tank and controlled the final rounds on the feet, and the ground. Poirier is in an interesting position now. If Justin Gaethje beats Khabib Nurmagomedov, Poirier might reasonably be first in line for a title shot. If Khabib wins, however, it’s tougher to say what’s next for him. Tony Ferguson would probably be the most sensible fight in that case. As for Dan Hooker, a rematch with Paul Felder, or a fight with Charles Olivera would make sense.