Mixed Martial Arts: Kiwi Dan Hooker Seriously Considering Going Overseas Under New Zealand’s Strict COVID-19 Protocols

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But his lightweight title aspirations are the least of Hooker’s worries as he seriously considers packing and shipping as New Zealand’s borders remain closed to the rest of the world.

“As an athlete who makes a living fighting all over the world, not being able to come and go from New Zealand is a huge obstacle,” he told Newshub.

“I don’t want to leave, but New Zealand has serious issues with the MIQ voucher system, and having to plan my fights when I can or can’t get a voucher is just not sustainable.

“MIQ will exist for 2-3 years, that’s the reality. One hundred percent, [moving overseas] is the best option for my career.

“I’m one of the lucky ones. I can afford to come and pick up my family and move abroad, rent a house, train and fight – there are so many fighters, so many individual athletes out there. are not so lucky.

“There is a generation of New Zealand athletes whose dreams are put aside because they cannot travel with the certainty of being able to return home.

“This has to change, the government has to find a solution – this is a mess.”

Hooker has good news – mentor and trainer Eugene Bareman will accompany him to Las Vegas.

The pair will be linked with teammate and UFC featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski, who is defending his title against Brian Ortega on the same card.

Hooker has missed full contact training opportunities, since his battle camp bubble was twice closed by police for violating COVID-19 lockdown protocols.

“I can’t wait to get back on it, hit the mat, hit the pads and go full steam ahead in the week leading up to the fight.

“It’s important to have Eugene there, to have that support, but Frank [Hickman], Joe Lopez and Alex [Volkanovski] are all there too, so it’s like a mini City Kickboxing camp. ”

The lightweight division is wide open, following the shock retirement of unbeaten Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov and the fall in form of former champion Conor McGregor, who hasn’t won a lightweight bout for nearly five years.

Champion Charles Oliveira is expected to defend against Dustin Poirier early next year, while top contenders Justin Gaetche and Chandler face off at UFC 268 in November.

With several other contenders mixing wins and losses, the “hanged man” could quickly find himself in the title race, if he manages to secure a few victories.

“I know there is no lightweight in the world that I can’t beat – I know that. There have been glimmers, tiny gleams of it in the past, I just need it all. pull together, and I feel like I’m now in my prime fights and now it’s my time. “

If Hooker can raise his hand against Haqparast, his journey to the top becomes so much clearer.

Join us on September 26 for live updates from UFC 266 / Hooker v Haqparast

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