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Dan Hooker Can't Wait To Get His Hands On Vick

“I don’t go in there to beat a guy by decision...I feel like if I don’t finish I don’t win.”

Dan Hooker isn’t the type of guy who lacks motivation.

But after taking what he describes as an “ass-whooping” from UFC lightweight contender Edson Barboza last December, Hooker’s passion for fighting and winning burns stronger than ever.

“I feel like I’m hungrier now than that fight [against Barboza],” Hooker said. “I feel like I hit the reset button and I feel like a whole new fighter.”

Hooker 2.0 will be on full-display this Saturday when he reports for duty against James Vick at UFC San Antonio. Both fighters are coming off losses, with Vick dropping his last two contests to Justin Gaethje and Paul Felder.

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Before Hooker’s eight-month absence, the New Zealander was ranked just outside the top ten, with Vick right there alongside him. But in the UFC’s most stacked division, things change quickly. Now Hooker finds himself on the outside looking in and Vick in the fifteenth spot, and believes that a big win over “The Texecutioner” will put him right back where he wants to be.

“A win over James Vick puts me back in the rankings, and another opportunity like that will come up against a top ten opponent,” Hooker said. “I’m an exciting guy. I like to go out there and finish fights and put on an exciting show. It’s natural; I don’t even have to try it, I just have a fan friendly style.”

That “fan friendly” style isn’t so friendly to his opponents, as Hooker has finished each of his UFC wins. Hooker’s kill or be killed mentality shapes how and why he fights.

Must See Moments: Dan Hooker
Must See Moments: Dan Hooker
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“It’s just the way I approach the sport,” Hooker said. “I don’t go in there to beat a guy by decision or hold him down for 15 minutes. I feel like if I don’t finish I don’t win.”

As for how “The Hangman” is approaching his main card matchup with Vick, the first thing that pops into Hooker’s head is the height and length of Vick. The 6-foot-3 Vick is the tallest lightweight that Hooker has ever had to face, and he’s excited for the challenge.

“Vick’s height is a whole new challenge but that’s okay because I love challenges,” Hooker said. “I’ve been training with guys at light heavyweight and middleweight to get an idea of what it will be like. I can’t wait to get my hands on him for real.”

Hooker is not only confident in the skill set he brings to the table, but confident in the abilities that Vick possesses. And for that reason, Hooker predicts that his clash with Vick will result in a bonus check.

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 30:  (L-R) Dan Hooker of New Zealand punches Marc Diakiese of Congo in their lightweight bout during the UFC 219 event inside T-Mobile Arena on December 30, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Hooker vs Marc Diakiese December 30, 2017 (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

“I feel like everyone knows this going to be Fight of the Night and everyone knows what to expect,” Hooker said. “There’s two guys that are just poison man, just poison. We knock people out, we submit people.

We both do it, man; it can end in a split second and it can end anywhere.”

Make sure you tune into ESPN to watch Hooker go to war with Vick on the UFC San Antonio main card at 9pm/6pm ET/PT.

Gavin Porter is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com, follow him on Twitter at @PorterUFCNews