UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Hooker

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Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker

Fight Odds: Poirier -225, Hooker +185 Odds to finish: -290 DK Salaries: Poirier 8.7k, Hooker 7.5k FD Salaries: Poirier $22, Hooker $18 Weight Class: 155



A brilliant Main Event that will be showcased in a small Octagon once again, former Interim champion Dustin Poirier will take on top contender Dan Hooker Saturday, in what’s being booked as one of the best matchups thus far in 2020.

Both fighters bring knockout power, aggression, and technical skill, and it’s very clear that neither fighter is willing to shy away from a fire fight, which is largely what I’m expecting given the smaller Octagon.

Poirier is coming off his title loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov, but wasn’t long ago when he defeated Max Holloway to win the Interim championship, landing 178 damaging strikes over the course of 25 minutes. Poirier now lands a whopping 5.51 significant strikes per minute and absorbs 3.97 per minute in that span, topping out at more than 170 strikes on multiple occasions.

He’s one of the best fighters in the division undoubtedly, and perhaps his only weakness may be that he’s shown less than superb durability over the years, suffering knockout losses to Conor McGregor and Michael Johnson, as well as the controversial No Contest fight against Eddie Alvarez.

Dan Hooker will be looking to test his chin early and often, as Hooker is coming off a Main Event showcase of his own against Paul Felder, defeating him in a competitive fight over 25 minutes, landing 122 strikes in the contest.

Hooker is now 10-4 in the UFC and has earned eight finishes, including a quick knockout against Gilbert Burns who is now fighting for the Welterweight title in July. He trains out of an elite camp at City Kickboxing with the likes of Alexander Volkanovski and Israel Adesanya, and believes this is his time to make a run at the title.

Hooker is a solid fighter but this will be the toughest test of his career, it was not long ago when he made a step up in competition against Edson Barboza and had the life beaten out of him for 12 minutes before the fight was stopped. It showcased amazing durability but also suggested that he has a ways to go before he can be considered one of the best fighters in the division.

If this fight plays out for 25 minutes, I have to give advantages to Poirier, who has simply fought and beaten much better competition, and has proven capable of landing power strikes at a very high rate. Dan Hooker can land strikes at a high rate, 4.76 sig. strikes per minute, but he’s also absorbed them at a rate too high for my liking, 4.67 per minute.

In part what that tells me is that he’s generally not landing many more damaging shots than he allows, and over 25 minutes, Poirier is absolutely going to land on him at a high clip. I expect Poirier is capable of badly damaging Hooker, and has potential to knock him out as well.

Hooker has similar upside in a sense, though I think he’s much less likely to run away with the fight. He is live to win a decision, but because he absorbs strikes at a high rate, I would expect it to be a very close and competitive fight, similar to what we saw against Paul Felder.

More than likely, I see a knockout as the best path to victory for Hooker, because he does throw sharply and Poirier can be cracked. It likely would come early as well, while Poirier is cold, rather than down the stretch.

Both fighters are also capable grapplers so we could see a small mix of takedowns thrown in, but I don’t expect either side to carry a massive advantage. Poirier has landed 1.55 takedowns per 15 minutes and is a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but Hooker defends takedowns at 78 percent and hasn’t really been dominated on the mat ever.

I keep coming back to the small Octagon here because I think that’s going to play a big role. Hooker did a great job and circling the Octagon against Felder and letting Felder chase him, and he won’t have that same luxury here. He’s actually a few inches taller and longer than Poirier but it’s going to be much harder to avoid exchanges, and I think we’ll see fireworks early.

On DraftKings, this is my favorite fight on the slate and I am likely to be essentially all in on the fight as a whole from both a cash game and tournament perspective.

Poirier is priced up at 8.7k and he’s my preferred option as a -225 favorite, with a fairly strong ITD line as well at -115. I think Poirier has a relatively decent chance to win by knockout, which is likely to score enough to end up on the optimal lineup, but I also think he’s capable of reaching value in a decision as well.

Considering we’ve seen him top 170 sig. strikes in the past, and given that he has 25 minutes to work with, Poirier has elite upside regardless. Even 120 sig. strikes in 25 minutes would produce a score of 90 points and make him competitive for the optimal, but I expect his upside is much higher considering he could add more strikes, a takedown or a knockdown.

Hooker is an elite play at 7.5k as well, in the sense that he is extremely likely to be on the winning lineup if he pulls off the victory. He is +275 ITD which is strong for the price, and has 90 point potential in a decision as well.

My assumption is that Poirier will be one of, if not the highest owned fighter on the slate given his name value and price, so that should factor in as well. There are also only 10 fights on this slate which make ownership and construction tricky.

In a vacuum, I really like Poirier and consider him probably the best tournament play on this slate, and I don’t mind if you want to have heavy exposure to him for that reason. I still think targeting Hooker in some regard is smart because this is a high-variance fight theoretically and the fight is likely to end ITD at -290. It’s well within reason that Hooker could hurt Poirier and get a finish, and he shouldn’t be overlooked on DraftKings.

I also think there’s some merit to taking an underweight stance on Poirier and therefore an overweight stance on Hooker just based on projected ownership alone, if you want to try and avoid the most chalky constructions, though Hooker will still carry decent ownership regardless.

In cash games, I think the best route is to play both sides and guarantee yourself a high scoring winner, with potential to rack up tons of points if the fight goes the distance.

On FanDuel, Poirier is the most expensive fighter at $22 but still one of the best tournament options on the slate. I would still plan to target him heavily and I don’t mind using him as a strong option in the MVP slot.

Hooker is overpriced based on his odds to win at $18 but his upside is still elite and therefore he’s still a very strong play. It might actually be better to take a stand on Hooker on FanDuel considering Poirier is only slightly more expensive, there could be a bigger ownership discrepancy between the two. Hooker still is likely to be on the winning lineup if he wins, and is also a decent option for the MVP slot considering his upside.


Fight Prediction: Poirier by TKO, RD 2

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