UFC Fight Night Auckland: The Fallout
By Ross Markey
The main event of UFC Fight Night Auckland between lightweight contenders, Paul Felder and Dan Hooker, promised certain fireworks – and it duly delivered. In a matchup which was almost too close to call, hometown favourite, Hooker, managed to maintain his win-streak as he picked up a 48-47 split-decision triumph.
Many predicted the judges would have some considerable involvement in the event headliner, due to the simple fact that between Felder and Hooker, they’ve only been finished once via either strikes or submission.
For twenty-five minutes, ‘The Irish Dragon’ and ‘The Hangman’ both walked through each other’s best offence with seemingly no second thought. With the tie even at two rounds apiece heading into the final frame – it seems a late, but great, double-leg takedown for Hooker swayed the judge’s decision.
The Kiwi has called for a potential title-eliminator with fellow surging contender, Justin Gaethje, while Felder hinted at possible retirement. Below, check out what, and who is next for both lightweight top tens.
Justin Gaethje vs. Dan Hooker:
Hooker’s called for this clash – and it makes perfect sense all in all. Gaethje has continually called for a meeting with recent winner, Conor McGregor, to avail as of yet. ‘The Highlight’ has battered James Vick, Edson Barboza, and Donald Cerrone recently, and is conceivably, a single win away from a lightweight championship tilt. Dan Hooker now finds himself within title territory. It’s a perfect matchup to headline a Fight Night event, and could easily feature on the main card of a high-profile pay-per-view event.
Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta:
If Roufusport trainee, Felder, elects to make the Octagon walk once again – let’s pair him up with the always game, Al Iaquinta. The Serra-Longo mainstay has yet to compete since his unanimous decision defeat to the aforementioned, Hooker at UFC 243 last year – and a pairing with the similarly durable Felder is a realistic possibility.
Felder is likely to drop down the rankings somewhat, particularly with lightweight counterparts Kevin Lee and Charles Oliveira throwing down in March. A pairing with ‘Ragin” Al may await Felder.
Look, Paul Felder has every right to call time on what’s been an incredibly entertaining career to date- namely his duels with Brazilian Muay Thai ace, Edson Barboza. The Philadelphia native is one of the most knowledgable analysts on the UFC desk at the moment, and has offered a real detailed approach when linked with Joe Rogan and the ever-present, Jon Anik during promotional pay-per-view events. If the 34-year-old decides to call time now, he has a perfect job in waiting.