Before Dan Hooker left the Octagon following his first-round knockout loss to Michael Chandler at UFC 257, he left his gloves in the cage — normally the universal signal that a fighter is calling it a career.
In his first public comments since that defeat, Hooker told Submission Radio that he was simply caught up in the frustration of the moment. He isn’t, however, ready to give up on his MMA career just yet. In fact, once things had time to settle down, Hooker says the loss wasn’t any more upsetting than his five-round decision defeat to Dustin Poirier last June.
“You’re always frustrated after a loss,” Hooker said (transcription via MMAFighting.com). “[It was] a balance of everything. Sheer frustration, you’re disappointed, and in that moment I was like, ‘I’m done. I’m finished with this s—-y sport. I’m done.’ Then you get back to the hotel and you think about it and you realize you’re not good at anything else either, so it’s like well, “I’ve kind of painted myself into a bit of a corner here.’
“People think you’re gonna be rolling around in depression and not getting out of bed, but I know what it is. This is a sport I’ve been doing and following for my entire adult life. It’s always a possibility. A loss like this, you’re not rolling around in depression, super upset. It’s self-explanatory. It is what it is. I can honestly say I’m not any more upset than when I lost the Poirier fight.”
Hooker was on the defensive from the outset in the bout, and Chandler floored him with a right hand to the body followed by a massive left hook to the head. Follow-up punches on the canvas spelled an end to “The Hangman’s” night 2:30 into Round 1. Hooker couldn’t have imagined a worse scenario on what is likely to be one of the biggest cards of 2021 — hence his silence until now.
“To be honest, I had nothing to say,” Hooker said. “Like a week went past and what can you say? What can you say? You have good days and bad days. You go into these kind of things and you prepare yourself for worst case scenarios, but even that took the cake. Even then it surprised me how bad it went. That was the very surprising thing. So I was like, what can you say? I had no words to describe it. You come to and then you’re just like, I’ve just wasted four months of my life for that.”
As far as analyzing his performance, Hooker chalks the KO loss up to simply not reacting properly to Chandler’s attacks.
“That’s like the funny thing, zigged and should’ve zagged,” Hooker said. “That’s all it is. Fighting is like a mixture of thinking and your reactions. You’re balancing your process thought and then your reactions. I felt like I was calm, could see everything, was thinking, was sharp in there. I just relied on my reactions to get out of the way of that punch and it let me down. It’s hard to describe. It’s such an obvious error and such a very costly mistake.
“He changed levels. I think I relied on my reaction time. He sold the level change well. I thought he was going for a takedown, comes upstairs with a punch. There’s a million things I could’ve done that would’ve changed that. There’s a million different reactions that I could’ve done and that not happen. But it did. What can you do? I certainly don’t have a time machine. I think Floyd Mayweather has a time machine. If anyone has a time machine, Floyd Mayweather has a time machine. I do not have a time machine.”