UFC Auckland Main Card Results: Hooker the Hometown Hero with KO Win

The roof of Spark Arena was almost lifted off as local hometown favourite Daniel ‘The Hangman’ Hooker scored perhaps the biggest win of his career via a step-up knee knockout of tough UFC veteran Ross Pearson. Coming into the fight with a distinct height and reach advantage, it took Hooker until half-way through the first round to become comfortable with his range and distancing, as he started to pick apart Pearson with stinging leg kicks to take the first round.

Pearson started the second round with plenty of head movement and powerful overhand punches, but it was Hooker who used his reach to his advantage as he landed plenty of stiff jabs. As Pearson continued to lean in looking for the knockout punch, it was only a matter of time before Hooker lined up his counter-attack and punished Pearson. And that’s exactly what happened as Pearson came in and Hooker landed a perfectly timed right step-up knee and his first win at lightweight in the UFC.

Speaking after the fight about his preparation and that knee, Hooker said “Ross Pearson is a guy you can never underestimate so I owe everything to my coaches. They studied the tapes, they made me drill that knee over and over, and they are the reason this happened tonight”. Hooker also took home a $50,000 Performance of The Night bonus for his efforts.

Dan Kelly’s impressive run of upset wins came to a grinding halt as Derek Brunson landed a perfectly timed overhand left that floored Kelly and led to a quick first round stoppage. The win puts Brunson back into the winner’s circle following two losses in the last seven months to top contenders Anderson Silva and Robert Whittaker.

In a fight that lasted no more than 22 seconds, Ion Cutelaba unloaded on Brazillian fighter Enrique Da Silva straight off the bell, knocking him down and finishing the fight quickly via referee stoppage. Having got in his opponent’s face not only at the weigh-in but also as he came into the cage, a performance like this was needed to back up the bluster.

A potential fight of the night candidate, the 12th ranked flyweight Ben Nguyen squared off with TUF season 24 winner and number eight ranked Tim Elliott. Nguyen put on an absolute showcase, beating Elliot within the first minute via rear naked choke. Elliott rushed in straight off the bell and Nguyen landed a perfectly timed knee to stop Elliott in his tracks. Following up with a high roundhouse kick, Nguyen then swarmed Elliott, taking his back and sinking in a deep choke. The quick submission earned Nguyen a $50,000 Performance of The Night bonus.

Alexander Volkanovski backed up from his impressive debut with a unanimous points decision win over Japan’s Mizuto Hirota. In a fight that had knockout potential written all over it, Volkanovski got the better of the striking exchanges with clean jabs and looping overhand punches. Hirota proved to have a durable chin and despite being dropped very early in the first round, still managed to see the fight out landing some great strikes of his own.

Results Main Card:

  • Mark Hunt (Australia/New Zealand) def. Derrick Lewis via TKO, (Punches), Rd 4, 3:51
  • Derek Brunson def. Daniel Kelly (Australia) via KO, (Punches), Rd 1, 1:16
  • Dan Hooker (New Zealand) def. Ross Pearson via KO (Knee), Rd 2, 3:02
  • Ion Cutelaba def. Luis Henrique da Silva via TKO (Punches), Rd 1, 0:22
  • Ben Nguyen (Australia/USA) def. Tim Elliott via Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), Rd 1, 0:49
  • Alexander Volkanovski (Australia) def. Mizuto Hirota via Decision (Unanimous: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27

Results Preliminary Card:

  • Vinc Pichel def. Damien Brown (Australia) via TKO (Punches), Rd 1, 3:37
  • Luke Jumeau (New Zealand) def. Dominque Steele via Decision (Unanimous: 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • John Moraga def. Ashkan Mokhtarian (Australia) via Decision (Unanimous: 30-25, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Zak Ottow def. Kiichi Kunimoto via Decision (Split: 29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Results Fight Pass Preliminary Card:

  • JJ Aldrich def. Chan Mi Jeon via Decision (Unanimous: 30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Dong Hyun Kim vs. Thibault Gouti (Fight cancelled after Gouti was declared medically unfit to fight due to illness)
As a former pro/am Muaythai fighter, current trainer and fresh BJJ White Belt my life revolves around all things concerning the ‘hurt business’. If it involves punches, kicks, knees and elbows than I’m interested! On the side I’m a self-confessed Melbourne Victory tragic and marketing professional by day.