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wandshogun09

UFC Auckland: Felder vs Hooker - Feb 22 🇳🇿

Who wins and how?   

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Saturday 22nd February in Auckland, New Zealand...

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ESPN+ MAIN CARD
Paul Felder vs Dan Hooker

Jake Matthews vs Emil Meek

Michal Oleksiejczuk vs Jim Crute

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Xiaonan Yan 

Ben Sosoli vs Marcos Rogério De Lima

 

ESPN+/FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Magomed Mustafaev vs Brad Riddell 

Zubaira Tukhugov vs Kevin Aguilar 

Jalin Turner vs Jamie Mullarkey 

Song Kenan vs Callan Potter 

Rachael Ostovich vs Shana Dobson 

Kai Kara-France vs Tyson Nam 

Loma Lookboonmee vs Hannah Goldy 

Maki Pitolo vs Takashi Sato 
 

I really like this. Big fan of that main event and there’s enough scattered through the undercard that I like to keep my interest. 

 

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Paul Felder vs Dan Hooker will be a fun one. I’m glad they’re giving these two the main event spotlight and 5 rounds to work with. Both are usually in entertaining fights so matching them against each other seems like a no brainer. Plus it’s in Auckland where Hooker was born and raised so that’s the crowd’s investment sorted. On top of that, it’s actually become a little bit of a grudge match. It started respectfully but over time there’s definitely been some competitive rivalry bubbling up.

This one actually goes back to April 2018. Hooker had just scored arguably his best career win to date, knocking out Jim Miller in a round. And Felder, who was on colour commentary duties that night, got in the cage to do the post-fight interview. And when Felder did the standard ‘who do you want to fight next?’ question, Hooker called out Felder. It was pretty cool and they were both respectful about it.

For whatever reason though, it never came together at that time. Felder went on to lose a split decision to Mike Perry but he followed that with two big wins over James Vick and Edson Barboza. Hooker went 3-1 over his next 4 fights. The only loss was to Barboza. But he scored first round knockouts against Gilbert Burns and James Vick. Then at UFC 243 in October, he firmly put himself on the radar with an impressive points win over Al Iaquinta. He looked great in that fight and really outclassed Raging Al in the striking. It was the best performance of his career so far.

In November, with both men coming off a couple of nice wins and a show in Auckland coming up, it all just fell into place and Felder vs Hooker was finally made official. I don’t even really know how the needle started but I did see this exchange on Twitter. 

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Nothing major there but they definitely weren’t buddies like in their initial callout. Then in early December they did some media in New Zealand to promote the event and did the customary face-off for the cameras. Nothing crazy happened, there was no brawling like Jones and DC or biting legs like Lewis and Tyson. But it was intense stuff. 

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“As far as intensity, that was real. I went down to New Zealand expecting a little bit of that from Dan because of how we interacted on social media. We kind of went back and forth a little bit. But that’s what it’s all about. We’re two guys that are trying to rally for a title shot after this one. We’re in each other’s way. 

I’m invading into his country. My whole plan is to knock his ass out in front of all his friends and family and take that money and get out of there and go on to a title shot.” - Paul Felder

That kind of talk didn’t go unnoticed by Hooker. And it didn’t go down well.

“It’s definitely crossed that line for me. I didn’t feel that this fight needed any of that. I didn’t feel like this fight needed anything added to it, you know? We’re two of the best, we’re both just brawlers, we love to come in there and throw down. I don’t think it was necessary but if he wants to start throwing those things out there, I’m not going to sit back and take it. I’m going to retaliate, I’m going to bring the heat and yeah, it’s definitely crossed the line for me, gone into a very personal nature.

I’m going to fold that boy like a deck chair, I promise you. I think it’s going to be a fast start. Whether it happens in the first or the fifth, I don’t care. It’s up to him. It’s when he wants to take those risks. But I’m chinning that boy, I promise.” - Dan Hooker 

😂 “chinning”. You never hear that in MMA.

So yeah, there’s some bad blood there. They’re both talking about title shots but I don’t think either of them are going to get a look in with the current Lightweight landscape. We’ve got Khabib vs Ferguson to get though first. Then you’ve got Justin Gaethje waiting in the wings and whatever happens with Conor McGregor. Plus the possibility of immediate rematches if there’s any controversial decisions or whatever. The winner of this should be in a strong position but a title shot is still probably a bit of a way off. Really looking forward to this fight.

 

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Jake Matthews vs Emil Meek is co-headlining this one. Solid enough fight. Matthews is Aussie, 25 years old, a BJJ black-belt and 15-4 in MMA. He’s had his ups and downs in the UFC but he’s won 4 of his last 5 now and is coming off a win over Rostem Akman (that hairy bastard) in October. Meek is 31 years old from Norway. Wild looking fucker. I don’t recall him being particularly exciting to watch though. His early career is full of finishes but after a quick knockout win over Rousimar Palhares in 2016, his next few fights have been pretty dull if I’m remembering right. In fairness though, one of them was just him getting dominated by Kamaru Usman. Meek hasn’t fought since 2018 for some reason. Hopefully he makes it to the cage this time. I actually like this matchup. I think Matthews might be able to bring more of the mad Viking style out of Meek. 

 

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Michal Oleksiejczuk vs Jim Crute could be a good scrap. Neither guy is making serious waves any time soon but they’re both young and aggressive and needing a win. Oleksiejczuk is Polish, 24 years old and 14-3-1 in MMA so far. He’s had a bunch of first round finishes in his career. He lost to Ovince Saint Preux in his last fight but he was giving OSP a bit of a hiding early on before eventually succumbing to the dreaded Von Preux choke. Crute is Australian, 23 years old and 10-1. He suffered his first loss in September when Misha Cirkunov got him with a Peruvian necktie of all submissions. What a way to taste defeat for the first time. He’d gone 10-0 with 7 finishes before that though and was looking like a good prospect for the Aussies. Quite like this matchup. 

 

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Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Xiaonan Yan might be alright. I don’t know with Kowalkiewicz anymore though. At one time she was a legit top contender, beat Rose Namajunas, went the distance with Joanna Jedrzejczyk and even hurt her. But she’s fallen right off of late. She’s 12-5 now and has lost her last 3 on the bounce. Including being brutally knocked out by Jessica Andrade. She had a fun fight with Alexa Grasso last time out but, still, it was another loss. If she drops another L here, I don’t know, I could see her getting her walking papers. Yan is decent as well. 11-1-1 record, hasn’t lost since her third pro fight back in 2010. She hasn’t beat anyone that good yet though, or operated on as high a level as Kowalkiewicz. So it’s a necessary step back for Karolina in a way, while also a step up for Yan. 

 

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Ben Sosoli vs Marcos Rogério De Lima is the lone Heavyweight clash on this card. Sosoli, nicknamed ‘The Combat Wombat’ 😂 is Aussie, a weathered 30 years old and has a record of 7-2-0-2. His last two fights ended in No Contests so hopefully he’s due a controversy-free fight here. We saw him against Greg Hardy in his UFC debut and it was awful. Hardy plodded to a points win but it was overturned to a NC because he used an inhaler between rounds. De Lima is nothing special. 16-6-1 and has lost pretty much every time he’s faced anyone good. Even a shot to bits Stefan Struve finished him last year. Hopefully the Wombat sleeps this fool and goes on a bit of a run. 

 

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Magomed Mustafaev vs Brad Riddell is ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** and should be well worth a look. Mustafaev is from Dagestan, 15-2 record and has won 14 of his last 15 fights with the only loss coming against Kevin Lee in 2016. I remember him doing pretty well early in that fight as well. He had a long layoff due to injuries after that loss but finally returned in 2019 and stopped Rafael Fiziev in about 90 seconds with a spinning back kick. Riddell is 28 years old, 7-1 record and is another hometown boy from Auckland. I’d never heard of him before his UFC debut but I know who he is now. Seriously, if you missed his fight with Jamie Mullarkey at UFC 243 in October, get it watched. I had zero expectations going in, it was just another prelim with two guys I’d never heard of. But they had a tremendous wild and bloody scrap. Riddell got the win by decision. Looking forward to seeing him fight again here. He’s got his hands full with Mustafaev though.

 

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Zubaira Tukhugov vs Kevin Aguilar could be OK, not that fussed. Tukhugov is a guy I haven’t seen enough of. I remember thinking he looked good early in his UFC run but it’s been very stop-start since then. He’s 18-4-1 now and coming off a draw. The thing he’s mostly known for is his part in the Khabib-McGregor post-fight brawl. Aguilar, again, is someone I haven’t seen a whole lot of. He’s 17-2, coming off a loss to Dan Ige. But before that he was riding a 9 fight winning streak. I do remember seeing his fight against Rick Glenn at one of the TUF Finales and it was a hell of a fight. If you’re at a loose end and pissing about on Fight Pass, Aguilar vs Glenn is a good use of 15 minutes. 

 

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Jalin Turner vs Jamie Mullarkey is just filler really but I’ll be giving this one a look. Turner is 8-5, he’s not going to be giving the champs nightmares. He’s got a fun striking style to watch though. He was actually Michael Bisping’s main sparring partner when Bisping was going to fight Anderson Silva. And of course, Mullarkey had that mad brawl with Brad Riddell that I mentioned earlier. So I’m up for seeing him back in there. It’s a nothing fight but will probably be entertaining enough for what it is. 

 

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Song Kenan vs Callan Potter isn’t doing anything for me. Song is Chinese, 15-5 and coming off a points win over Derrick Krantz. Potter is Australian, 18-8 and decisioned Maki Pitolo in his last fight. Potter’s nickname is ‘Rockstar’ for some reason. Could he look any less like a rockstar? Maybe he just loves the energy drinks or something. 

 

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Rachael Ostovich vs Shana Dobson is just there really. These two are going nowhere. It sounds harsh but at this point it’s pretty clear that Ostovich is only still on the roster because of her looks. She’s 4-5 in MMA, 1-2 in the UFC and has been submitted in her last 2 fights. I’d like to see her do well, especially after that horrible domestic violence situation last year. But it just doesn’t seem like she’s cut out for MMA at any kind of high level. Dobson is no great shakes herself though. 3-3 and coming off a couple of losses as well. Ostovich might actually win this one but it’s the dregs of the roster really as far as skill level goes. 

 

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Kai Kara-France vs Tyson Nam will probably be decent enough. I haven’t found Kai Kara-France that exciting to watch so far but he’s a skilled fighter and another Kiwi so the crowd should be into it. He’s 20-8-1 and coming off a loss to Brandon Moreno. He’d won 8 in a row before that though. Nam is Hawaiian, 18-10-1. Lost to Sergio Pettis in September. I like Nam but I don’t see him having much for KKF here. 

 

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Loma Lookboonmee vs Hannah Goldy is a fight I’m interested in, purely to see Loma again. She’s 23 years old from Thailand. Sure I read that she’s the first actual Thai born fighter in the UFC. She’s only 4-1 in MMA. Fought in Pancrase and Invicta before she was signed by the UFC and beat Aleksandra Albu in her Octagon debut on the Maia vs Askren undercard in Singapore. Nothing earth shattering and MMA is still pretty new to her. She’s got a lot of experience as a striker though. Turned pro at just 8 years old! She’s a 9 time Muay Thai champion and has over 200 fights between Thai, Kickboxing and Boxing. Goldy is 5-1 with only one stoppage to her name. Lost her UFC debut in August. Sounds like a showcase fight for Loma but you never know. 

 

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Maki Pitolo vs Takashi Sato then. Don’t know a ton about these two but it sounds like a fun little undercard fight on paper. Pitolo is Hawaiian, 12-5 with 9 finishes and his nickname is ‘Coconut Bombz’. Yeah, me neither. Seems it’s the card for wacky nicknames. Sato is Japanese, 15-3 with 12 finishes. Mostly remember him for absolutely waffling the shite out of Ben Saunders sometime last year. So yeah, not a fight of any significance but sounds like an explosive one. 

 

Couple of duds in there but I think that’s a nice card on the whole. 

 

 

Edited by wandshogun09

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