UFC 257: Dan Hooker relishing being on a Conor McGregor card – ‘It’s the biggest opportunity on the biggest show’

New Zealand’s Dan Hooker has fought on some big UFC shows in his six years with the promotion.

From main events in Las Vegas and headlining shows in his hometown of Auckland, to the co-main event spot in Melbourne which set the UFC attendance record, Hooker has seen a lot in his 15 fights with the company.

But as everybody knows, a Conor McGregor show is different.

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Hooker has a unique opportunity when he takes on Michael Chandler at UFC 257 on Fight Island this Sunday (AEDT).

Fighting in the co-main event spot only moments before the biggest star the sport has ever seen has its benefits; the whole world will be watching.

“I feel like it’s the biggest fight and the biggest opportunity, in the biggest show that I’ve ever been in,” Hooker said on a media call.

“This is huge. I can definitely feel the attention it’s getting, there’s an energy on Fight Island around our card.

“Just being on a McGregor card, just the build-up to it, it just has a feeling that I’ve never felt around any other card, just the interest, the excitement, the hype of the main event and me getting to welcome Michael Chandler to the UFC.”

Derrick Lewis famously tripled his social media following in a matter of days when he scored a huge come from behind win on the undercard of UFC 229 when McGregor fought Khabib Nurmagomedov. With Lewis’ newfound fame he was given a title shot.

Hooker finds himself in a similar position.

In a sport where highlight reels and fandom count for as much as winning streaks, the attention a McGregor show brings means Hooker has the opportunity to force himself onto the consciousness of those outside the ‘MMA bubble’ and leapfrog those ahead of him in the rankings, setting up a huge next fight, either for the title or against McGregor himself.

The opportunity is not lost on Hooker, but he remains cautious knowing trying to force the outcome is not the best strategy.

“If you go out there and try to force an impressive performance it doesn’t happen and you can get yourself in trouble, especially against a heavy hitter like Michael Chandler,” Hooker said.

“The work is done, what’s going to play out is going to play out. I definitely feel like all you have to do is watch my fights and see I am capable of impressive performances.

“I’m definitely within shot, I’m the one flying over here and fighting the new guy, I’m taking months off from being home with my family, huge risk equals huge reward, whatever that may be, whether that may be from the main event or Khabib only time will tell.”

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My earliest combat sports memory is watching David Tua knock people out with his left hook.  I am extremely passionate about combat sports in Australia and my home country of New Zealand and I endeavour to grow the profile of martial arts and its athletes in both countries. Persistent Brazilian jiu-jitsu battler.