Dustin Poirier defeats Dan Hooker in action-packed UFC on ESPN 12 main event

Jeff Cain
MMA Weekly
Dustin Poirier cracks Dan Hooker at UFC on ESPN 12
Dustin Poirier cracks Dan Hooker at UFC on ESPN 12

Former interim lightweight champion Dustin "The Diamond" Poirier returned to the octagon on Saturday after a nine-month layoff against No. 5 ranked Dan Hooker in the UFC Vegas 4 main event. Poirier hoped to rebound for a loss to champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in his last outing while Hooker was looking to put himself in title fight contention.

In the opening round, the two wasted little time before exchanging. Hooker targeted Poirier's legs with kicks while Poirier connected with right hands. It was a back-and-forth round with Hooker landing at a higher rate.

In the second frame, the two picked up where they left off in the first round. Poirier landed hard right hands and Hooker put together combinations. In the closing seconds of the round, Hooker delivered a knee that landed and hurt Poirier. Both men returned to their corners bloodied.

Hooker began looking for takedowns in the third round. He was able to change levels and put Poirier on his back. Poirier was active on the bottom looking for a submissions and delivering elbows. He worked his way back to his feet late in the frame and connected with a combination in the closing moments.

Dustin Poirier victory at UFC 236
Dustin Poirier victory at UFC 236

Poirier began landing at a high rate in the fourth frame. Over the course of the fight, he connected at a staggering 72-percent ratio. Hooker continued to try and get the fight to the ground and secured two takedowns in the round. Poirier was able to quickly get back to his feet both times and took Hooker down. As Hooker worked to stand, Poirier took his back. He slid off, but applied an arm bar. Hooker escaped the submission attempt and rose to his feet but Poirier applied a guillotine choke and pulled guard. Hooker popped his head out and peppered Poirier with short punches as the round ended.

RELATED > UFC on ESPN 12: Poirier vs. Hooker Live Results

In the final frame, Poirier looked to be the fresher fighter. He started doubling up on his jab and stuffed Hookers' first takedown attempt of the frame. Poirier worked his way back standing and gained top position after Hooker failed on a takedown attempt. He delivered left hands until the fight ended. All three judges scored the bout for Poirier with the scorecards reading 48-47, 48-47, and 48-46.

"It was a tough one. Dan's a tough guy. He came to fight. He's on the rise. He really thought that he was going to get past me. He talked a lot of trash like he was going to move forward and fight the champ, but I'm the (expletive) champ," said Poirier following the win.

Back in the win column and back after a long layoff, Poirer isn't in a rush to get back in the cage.  The earliest he expects to fight again is late this year or in 2012. 

"Maybe I'll fight at the end of the year. Maybe I'll fight next year. I don't know. I just want to go home to my daughter. You know I'm a winner, and it was a long time off. The longest break of my career, 40 fights. I had to take nine months off and sit on the sidelines," said Poirier.  

"I couldn't put weight on my leg for eight weeks. I had to overcome some stuff. Now that I'm a victor again, I want to get back to the drawing board and keep getting better. I want to stay in love with this sport. I don't want to push myself, or work myself so much that I hate this. I've been doing this a long time and pushing myself to the limits every day, so I just want to do it right and give it my all the right way."

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