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Dan Hooker Took Just So Much Punishment From Edson Barboza

Screenshot: FOX

The worst way to fight Edson Barboza is to let the lanky Brazilian have the necessary space to get his terrifying kicks off. Kiwi action fighter Dan Hooker very occasionally (so, like, twice) ruffled Barboza with spurts of pressure in the second round of their fight last weekend on the UFC’s final card on Fox, but aside from a handful of positive exchanges and one ground scramble that wound up being all about rest, the fight was an utterly punishing experience for Hooker.

The finishing sequence below shows exactly that. By the time the third round reached its third minute, Daniel Cormier was yelling (at the official more than the audience) for the fight to be stopped. Hooker had been on shaky legs since halfway through first round after Barboza kicked his lead leg into offal, and he had been visibly woozy for a good five minutes of fighting thanks to vicious power shots from Barboza, who snapped his jab into Hooker’s face, found big right-handed counter shots, and wielded his leg like chainsaw.

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Credit to the New Zealander for an utterly inhuman display of toughness, but the last 20 seconds of the fight were hard to watch. Hooker was scrunched into a concave posture of pain, yet his will to fight, his corner, and the referee all allowed him to stay upright long enough to get kneed in the head a few times, annihilated with another powerful body kick, pawed on the head a few times, and finally, mercifully, finished with a soft body shot. It was ugly, and Hooker is truly one of the toughest motherfuckers in this sport.

The announcing crew all seemed to agree that Hooker was cooked well before the fight was officially stopped, and the fighter had to spend Sunday night in a Milwaukee hospital recovering from being “visibly concussed several times.” Hooker somehow has no broken bones, though that’s not really the worst case scenario here at all; bones heal, but the sort of damage a fighter can take in a beatdown like this can linger. Hell, recovery from the concussions alone might not ever be complete. UFC boss Dana White even said that he thought the fight should have been stopped earlier.

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Hooker has fought 25 professional bouts, but he’s 28, so he’ll be around a while if he wants to. This was his chance to cement himself as one of the up-and-coming fighters in the UFC’s most stacked division (consider that someone as technical and fearsome as Barboza is a gatekeeper), and if his chin holds, he’s probably good enough to work his way back up there again.

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