Dustin Poirier won a thrilling unanimous decision over Dan Hooker on Saturday, surviving a brutal second round and persevering to finish a well-rounded performance in the main event at the UFC’s corporate gym.
Mike Perry also ended his two-fight skid with a one-sided unanimous decision over Mickey Gall in the penultimate fight of the UFC’s fifth consecutive fan-free event in its hometown.
The main event was a barn-burner from the opening round, with both lightweights trading wicked strikes and displaying minimal regard for defense. The second round was a particular spectacle, with each fighter badly hurting the other while throwing punches and knees at full power.
Photo: Chris Unger / Zuffa LLC / USA TODAY
The fight went to the ground in the fourth round and Poirier attempted several submissions before Hooker escaped. Poirier appeared to have more energy left for the fifth round and he won on all three cards: 48-47, 48-47 and 48-46.
“It was a tough one,” Poirier said. “Dan came to fight. He’s a tough guy. He’s on the rise. He really thought he was going to get past me. I trusted in my team, in my skill and my work ethic.”
Poirier (26-6) capped his long rise by beating Max Holloway in April last year for the interim lightweight title. He lost the belt to unbeaten champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in September last year and a leg injury subsequently kept him out of the cage for the longest stretch of his career.
He was back in fine form against Hooker (20-9), a tough kickboxing star from New Zealand who won seven of his previous eight bouts since 2016.
Perry had lost five of his past seven fights, and his wild mixed martial arts career took another swerve in recent months when he split with his wife, separated from his coaches and decided that his girlfriend, Latory Gonzalez, would be the only person in his corner at this fight.
Gonzalez does not have an extensive combat sports background and her corner work largely consisted of placing an ice bag on Perry’s neck between rounds and saying: “You’re doing great, baby.”
Perry used his superior striking skills and an impressive ground game to earn just his second win since July 2018.
“Every time we get in there, it’s all up to me,” said Perry, who plans to get new coaches before his next bout. “I trained for this. I’m a professional.”
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