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Hooper and Irwin: Ahead of The Curve | UFC FIGHT PASS

UFC Lightweight Chase Hooper And Fury FC’s Bekah Irwin Discuss Getting Respect As Young Athletes In A Sport Dominated By Experience.

Fury FC 91 sets the stage for Bekah Irwin to make her first appearance in MMA competition.

Irwin, now 23 years old, has made a name for herself as lethal in the standup game. After going 3-0 with GLORY Kickboxing and winning the IFMA World Championships three times in a row, Irwin will test the waters of mixed martial arts.

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“Really, it’s just a bigger platform honestly,” Irwin explained. “Muay Thai doesn’t get a whole bunch of attention, kickboxing the same story. I want some new challenges; I want to try a new sport and see how I do over there. I want to see how I do with the wrestling and jiu-jitsu, mixing it all up.”

Irwin’s first combat sports competition was at age 15. After that, repeated trips to Thailand to fight Muay Thai set her up to be the youngest athlete GLORY has ever signed, being 18 for just days before signing.

If anybody can relate it’s UFC lightweight Chase “The Dream” Hooper.

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Long before his FIGHT PASS Journalist of the Year trophies, Hooper was a prodigy coming up on the regional MMA scene. An undefeated amateur record put Hooper’s career on the fast track, making his pro debut at 18 years old and his UFC debut at 20.

Now 24 years old, Hooper has almost completely grown out of the “young guy” title. Currently nine UFC fights in, Hooper is a legitimate rising star.

“Now that I feel like I’m getting into a well-rounded game and proving myself, I don’t think I need that label anymore,” Hooper explained. “It was nice when I had it, but now I feel like I’m just one of the other guys on the roster.”

Coming off a legendary Kickboxing and Muay Thai career stretching back to age 15, Irwin still needs to overcome that hump. The Houston native will return to her hometown looking to make a statement the same way Hooper did before punching his ticket to Dana White’s Contender Series.

“I’m hoping with this fight, if I can do what I want to do, everybody is going to be like, ‘that’s a really good fighter,’ Irwin said. “They don’t have to focus so much on me being young.”

Even without clocking any cage time yet, Irwin’s experience precedes her. Success at a young age and continued success at GLORY gives Irwin more fighting experience than most fighters even ten years her elder. Fury FC 91 will allow Irwin the opportunity to display the fighting spirit that has been present since starting jiu-jitsu at age 5.

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Having overcome every obstacle that comes with being a young athlete in a professional sport, Hooper passes down some advice for the young fighter.

“Don’t focus too much on whatever people are saying on social media,” Hooper said. “For your own mental state, don’t think that you’re the young fighter, don’t use that as a crutch.”

Irwin may just have the most fighting experience of any debuting MMA athlete, and youth and experience are setting Irwin up for a quick rise to a UFC call if all goes as planned, the same way it did for Hooper five years ago.

“I’m hoping to let my striking background shine, and if it does, I’m looking to move up quick,” Irwin said.

Fury FC 91 sets the stage for Bekah Irwin and UNC National Champion Wrestler Austin O’Connor to make their MMA debuts. Watch all the action exclusively on UFC Fight Pass!