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MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event for UFC on ESPN 12.

UFC on ESPN 12 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The event airs on ESPN and streams on ESPN+.

Dustin Poirier (25-6 MMA, 17-5 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 31 Weight: 155 lbs. Reach: 72″
  • Last fight: Submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov (Sept. 7, 2019)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/striking style: Southpaw/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt
+ Regional and amateur MMA titles
+ 12 KO victories
+ 7 submission wins
+ 12 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Aggressive pace and pressure
+ Improved overall boxing
^ Cage-cuts, shifts, takes angles
+ Accurate left cross
^ Coming forward or off the counter
+ Strong inside of the clinch
+ Underrated wrestling ability
^ Offensively and defensively
+ Excellent transitional grappler
^ Solid submissions and scrambling

Dan Hooker (20-8 MMA, 10-4 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 30 Weight: 155 lbs. Reach: 75″
  • Last fight: Decision win over Paul Felder (Feb. 23, 2020)
  • Camp: City Kickboxing (New Zealand)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/muay Thai
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt
+ 10 KO victories
+ 7 submission wins
+ 12 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Consistent pace and pressure
+ Good feints and footwork
^ Will switch stances
+ Works well off of lead hand
+ Accurate crosses and kicks
+ Dangerous knees and elbows
+ Improved wrestling
^ Defensively and offensively
+ Underrated grappler
^ Slick scrambling and submission acumen

Point of interest: Demolishers of a different breed

The main event on ESPN features a fun lightweight affair between two fighters who will exercise every avenue possible in order to demolish their target.

A muay Thai stylist who can stick and move off of pressure, Dan Hooker wields a diverse arsenal of attack. Whether he’s fighting from orthodox or southpaw, the New Zealand native can strike well from either stance, both coming forward or off the counter.

Working nicely off of a long and well-placed jab, Hooker can offensively prod with effect or attach it to the end of combinations as a disruptive check to help dissuade counters. Often following up with his patented crosses and head kicks, the 30-year-old talent will continue to vary his tempo and attacks throughout the contest, attempting to build in pace and pressure.

Helping glue together Hooker’s offensive repertoire is his ability to effectively feint in space – something that I suspect he can thank Eugene Bareman and the City Kickboxing crew for. Nevertheless, despite Hooker’s noted technical improvements and inherent chin, defense has not necessarily been his strong suit, making offense a potent, two-way street against a demolisher like Dustin Poirier.

An aggressive fighter out of the chute, the 11-year pro from Louisiana has shown to evolve from the once eager slugger to a more mature fighter who likes to dictate brawls rather than enter them. In fact, Poirier has made significant upgrades to his game since moving shop to American Top Team in South Florida.

Demonstrating an excellent awareness of distance and footwork, the slugging southpaw will shift his stance for setups (often doubling up on strikes from the same side) as he adjusts his angles accordingly with fight-ending shots in mind.

Utilizing this style of shifting to create attack opportunities, Poirier has shown to sit down more on his punches, giving three fighters their first stoppage losses since returning to 155 pounds. The 31-year-old also displays improvements to his prodding, pulling and returning, but will likely need to mind the defense of his legs and calves in this contest.

Next point of interest: Scrambling in the small cage



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