Dan Hooker Learning To Dismiss ‘Downward Spiral’ Of Fans’ Expectations

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UFC lightweight veteran Dan Hooker let his ‘Hangman’ persona get the better of him during his recent losing skid.

Hooker will face Claudio Puelles on the UFC 281 main card tonight. He returns to the lightweight division after a one-fight move to featherweight resulted in a knockout loss to Arnold Allen.

Hooker has lost four of his last five fights and enters arguably a must-win situation against Puelles. Once thought of as one of the top lightweights in the world, on the verge of falling out of the UFC’s Top 15 at 155lbs.

Hooker has reflected on how his impulsive decision-making led to a series of changes in his inner circle, but it also includes how social media and fans impacted his approach to fighting.

Dan Hooker Let His Ego & Expectations Lead Him Astray

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During an interview with Submission Radio, Hooker explained how his fans’ high expectations got to his head.

“That definitely came to me in the last two fights, where I wanted to go out there and put on a show, I wanted to go out and put on a fight,” Hooker said. “That definitely led me astray and put me too close in the Islam fight, getting taken down…just wanting to push the fight and wanting to rush my way back to my feet.

“Getting forgetful and making a silly mistake. Wanting to put on a show for the fans, wanting one of those highlight reel moments… that reaction and that level of expectation became very confronting…when you’re thinking what other people are thinking, that’s a downward spiral… so instead of doing that, I’m a much better version of myself and to create another moment and not replicate a moment from the past.”

After an impressive win over Nasrat Haqparast at UFC 266, he took a short-notice fight against Islam Makhachev at UFC 267. This would prove to be an unwise choice as he lost via first-round kimura submission.

At 32 years old, Hooker has plenty of time to right his recent wrongs, especially after wins earlier in his career over Paul Felder, Gilbert Burns, and Al Iaquinta. Before a loss to Dustin Poirier in June 2020, Hooker seemed destined to earn a lightweight title shot.

Social media and fame are blessings and curses, and Hooker will try to not let expectations drive his desire to put on vintage performances going forward.

Please provide transcription credit with a link to this article if you use any of these quotes.

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