Dan Hooker vs. Jalin Turner (UFC 290)
Dan Hooker and Jalin Turner represent the cream of the crop when it comes to UFC talent. Despite not touching UFC gold, their ability to get in the cage with the best fighters and have multiple ways of winning is what makes them so good. Both fighters have displayed their striking and grappling in the past with big wins over tough competition, but little did everyone know they'd bring out the absolute best in each other.
Hooker has a way of pulling you into his world. A natural kickboxer with some good grappling, his losses over the last five years have come against top fighters in the world. For Turner, his renaissance after losing to Matt Frevola is one of the best in the UFC. He went into his bout with Hooker coming off a split decision loss to Mateusz Gamrot, another fighter entering the UFC title picture at lightweight.
Hooker presents interesting durability in the cage. If you can't catch him with your best strikes early, chances are you've entered a world of hurt. Hooker has good movement, footwork, and timing, which proved to be a tough test for Turner, especially late in the fight.
Turner is a great striker with incredible power, but it just wasn't his night. Despite landing 34 significant strikes and 16 to the head in the first round, he was not able to buckle Hooker. Hooker's first-round strategy of going for the legs was a big reason Tuner was unable to generate power, which ultimately turned the bout into a kickboxing point fight, Hooker's favorite.
The second round was great for Hooker. He turned up the pace and forced Turner into his fight, which ultimately drained Turner over three rounds. The third round was one of the best we've seen from Hooker in years, landing a knockdown and trying to land some ground-and-pound to finish the fight.
Both fighters combined for 225 significant strikes and, boy, were they significant. They mixed it up well on the feet, going for all three levels, with Hooker getting the split decision nod in the end.
Not only was this fight exciting, but fans wanted to see both fighters win for different reasons. While Turner represents the top echelon of UFC title prospects, Hooker is a fan favorite who has been on the wrong side of highlight reel-style knockouts. In a more technical kickboxing fight, Hooker proved, once again, that he is a force to be reckoned with.