New Zealand’s Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker seems pretty mystified by the fact that fellow UFC lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov manages to drain himself down to the division’s weight limit.
Of course, Nurmagomedov did experience weight-cutting issues earlier this year that led to his hospitalization and the subsequent scrapping of his interim title fight with Tony Ferguson at UFC 209, but he has made the weight on six occasions since joining the promotion six years ago and he hopes to do so again next Friday ahead of a scheduled clash with Edson Barboza at UFC 219 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Hooker, however, says that after witnessing an out-of-camp Nurmagomedov wrestling former UFC middleweight champion and American Kickboxing Academy teammate Luke Rockhold on one occasion, he feels that the Russian’s entire training camp in the lead up to a fight must merely be an arduous exercise in weight loss.
“I just hope he comes in and makes the weight. I seen him out of camp once man, and that’s a big dude,” Hooker recently told James Lynch when he was asked to pick a winner in the Nurmagomedov vs. Barboza fight. “He would have been like 95 kilos [209lbs] – like light-heavyweight size – and he was wrestling Luke Rockhold and just out-muscling him, just holding him down.”
“So, that’s a big guy. That’s one of the guys that I don’t know how he makes lightweight, man,” added Hooker, who as a six-foot tall former featherweight undoubtedly knows a thing or two about tough weight-cuts. “Training camp would be just a weight-loss clinic, I guess.
“That’s probably why he doesn’t fight so often.”
Indeed, Nurmagomedov hasn’t fought since November of last year, when he bludgeoned Michael Johnson to defeat at UFC 205 in New York City, and he has only competed a total of three times in the last four years. At least in part due to this inactivity, and in spite of his expression of awe at Khabib’s sheer size, Hooker went on to pick an upset win for the explosive Barboza.
“I’m thinking Barboza is just too slick, too fast, too agile, too active over the last few years – the guy’s been improving and fighting,” said Hooker. “So, I’m going to go with Edson.”
If Barboza(19-4) does manage to spring the upset, he will become the first man to ever beat Nurmagomedov, who has thus far compiled a sparkling 24-0 record as a professional. The Brazilian will also move to 4-0 since a submission defeat to Tony Ferguson in December 2015 and cast himself right into the admittedly muddled 155-pound title picture.
Hooker himself will also see action next Saturday night, as he takes on British knockout artist Marc Diakiese. The Kiwi scored a sensational knockout win of his own last time out, obliterating Diakiese’s tough countryman Ross Pearson with a vicious knee at UFC Fight Night 110. Hooker will be hoping that he can break his frustrating pattern of following every UFC victory so far with a defeat by becoming only the second man to top Diakiese.
You can watch a host of pros giving their thoughts on Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Edson Barboza below. Skip to the two-minute mark for Dan Hooker’s comments.