UFC Auckland results: Dan Hooker earns split nod, may have retired Paul Felder

February 22, 2020

Dan “the Hitman” Hooker escaped the UFC on ESPN+ 26 main event with a narrow split-decision victory on Saturday in Auckland, New Zealand, but may have retired Paul Felder in the process.

Felder was sitting at No. 6 in the lightweight division heading into the bout. A victory may have put him in the cat-bird seat in regard to a lightweight title shot, but the loss put the 35-year-old in a tough position for a climb back into title contention. It may have put an end to his career.

“I knew it was close. I felt like I hurt him a lot in the fight. I felt like I busted him up pretty good, but that might be it for me. I have a four-year-old at home that misses me like heck every time I go away like this,” Felder said after the fight, Hooker immediately grasping and raising Felder’s arm to his home country crowd.

Hooker started off with a solid strategy, staying at distance and picking at Felder’s lead leg with low kicks. Every round was close, but the first was clearly a nod in Hooker’s favor as he quickly bruised Felder’s lead leg.

Felder started faster in round two, trying to make up ground, but Hooker kept after his lead leg attacks early in the round and got the better of the punches. The fight evened out in the last half of the round.

The third frame was fairly even, but Felder landed more of the harder shots, stepping up the power in his leg kicks and landing the spinning back kick, as well as snapping some hard jabs. Hooker remained at range, trying to stick shots and dart out, but Felder edged ahead with his power shots.

Felder had a great fourth round, landing powerful punch combinations and fighting off Hooker’s grappling. He landed hard elbows in the clinch and blasted Hooker with some brutal punch combinations and a stiff jab that slowed the Kiwi fighter.

The fifth round was a brutal back-and-forth affair with both men giving everything they had to try and win the fight, the damage of the earlier rounds worn on their faces. Edging close to what could have easily been called a draw, Hooker scored a takedown in the final minute of the fight that may have been the deciding factor for the judges.

After five rounds, Hooker edged out a narrow split-decision victory. Two of the judges scored it 48-47 for Hooker, while the other judge gave the 48-47 nod to Felder.

Knowing that he may have been Felder’s final opponent, Hooker said, “It’s an honor man. He’s a tough son of a gun.” But he quickly moved on to his next target, “I’ve got my eye on someone. A battle of the highlight reel. I want Justin Gaethje.”

Jimmy Crute makes quick work of Michal Oleksiejczuk

Jimmy Crute wasted no time in the UFC Auckland co-main event, disposing of Michal Oleksiejczuk just 3:29 into the first round.

Crute clinched and pressed Oleksiejczuk up against the fence frequently throughout the first three minutes of the round before eventually putting him on the canvas. A short time later, Crute worked his way to side control and locked on a Kimura. 

A few moments later and Oleksiejczuk was tapping out and Crute was moving to an 11-1 record, rebounding from a loss to Misha Cirkunov last year.

Yao Xiaonin stakes her claim in the UFC strawweight division

Yao Xiaonin continued her climb up the starwweight ranks, scoring a lopsided decision over former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Xiaonin controlled the bout, taking Kowalkiewicz down on several occasions and outlanding her on the feet en route to unanimous scores of 30-26 from all three judges.


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UFC on ESPN+ 26: Felder vs. Hooker Fight Card

Main Card

  • Dan Hooker def. Paul Felder by split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47)
  • Jim Crute def. Michał Oleksiejczuk by submission (Kimura) at 3:29, R1
  • Yan Xiaonan def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz by unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
  • Marcos Rogério de Lima def. Ben Sosoli by TKO (punches) at 1:28, R1
  • Brad Riddell def. Magomed Mustafaev by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
  • Zubaira Tukhugov def. Kevin Aguilar by TKO (punches) at 3:21, R1

Prelims

  • Jalin Turner def. Josh Culibao by TKO (punches) at 3:01, R2
  • Jake Matthews def. Emil Meek by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Song Kenan def. Callan Potter by KO (punches) at 2:20, R1
  • Kai Kara-France def. Tyson Nam by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
  • Angela Hill def. Loma Lookboonmee by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
  • Priscila Cachoeira def. Shana Dobson by KO (punch) at 0:40, R1

(Photo courtesy of UFC)