UFC Auckland: Both fighters go to hospital after Dan Hooker wins five-round war against Paul Felder


A brutal UFC contest in Auckland has ended with both Kiwi Dan Hooker and Irishman Paul Felder in hospital, amid suggestions winner Hooker may have suffered a broken jaw.

Spark Arena may be the home court of the Breakers and the stage for some of the biggest touring acts to hit New Zealand. But make no mistake, the Auckland venue is Dan Hooker’s house.

The noise was deafening from the 10,025 sell-out crowd as Hooker (21-8) claimed a split decision victory over Paul Felder (17-5) in a five-round war at UFC Fight Night.

Dan Hooker celebrates his thrilling win over Paul Felder in Auckland.

BRETT PHIBBS/PHOTOSPORT

Dan Hooker celebrates his thrilling win over Paul Felder in Auckland.

There were no post-match press conferences, as both men were taken to hospital for observation after the fight, which was awarded the Fight of the Night bonus 

‘The Hangman’ had appeared in the mixed martial arts promotion’s two previous visits to the city and stole the show each time.

While there was the added pressure on this occasion of being the headline act, the result was the same. Although it was much closer than many of the local fans would have liked, as Felder pushed a relentless pace and refused to take a backward step.

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However, the 30-year-old bit down on the mouthpiece and surged home in the final round, which ultimately proved decisive as he edged the result 47-48, 48-47, 48-47.

Dan Hooker and Paul Felder exchange blows during their main event showdown in Auckland.

BRETT PHIBBS/PHOTOSPORT

Dan Hooker and Paul Felder exchange blows during their main event showdown in Auckland.

Having now won seven of his last eight bouts, Hooker announced himself as major player in the division and is expected to move into the top-five of the rankings.

He immediately set his sights on a date with the fourth-ranked Justin Gaethje in his post-fight interview. 

“I’ll defend this land, no matter what the cost. Thank you,” Hooker said.

“It was an honour [to fight Paul Felder]. He’s a tough son of a gun. I enjoyed myself.

Dan Hooker took Paul Felder down in the fifth round.

Brett Phibbs

Dan Hooker took Paul Felder down in the fifth round.

“I want Justin Gaethje next. Let’s go.”

The stakes were just as high for the sixth-ranked Felder but after coming up agonisingly short, he indicated that his career may be coming to an end.

Hooker’s victory capped a tremendous day for Auckland gym City Kickboxing as all three fighters on display had their hands raised.

Lightweight Brad Riddell won a split decision over Magomed Mustafaev, while Kai Kara-France recorded a convincing unanimous division victory against Tyson Nam.

However, Australian-born, Kiwi raised heavyweight Ben Sosoli (7-3) was knocked out in the first round by Brazil’s Marcos Rogerio de Lima (17-7-1).

In the main event, Felder actually edged the significant strike count 133-119 but his face told a different story as Hooker opened him up and inflicted major damage to his right eye.

It was a measured start by Hooker. He constantly circled his opponent looking to establish range, while staying out of the way of Felder’s right hand.

Felder managed to sweep Hooker off his feet with a leg kick, but it was the Kiwi who found more openings with his longer reach.

Felder staved off a submission attempt midway through the second round as Hooker mixed his game up well, although he was stunned by a heavy combination just before the bell.

‘The Irish Dragon’ then made a move as he crept inside Hooker’s defences on several occasions and landed a number of powerful blows.

He showed no sign of letting up in the fourth, forcing Hooker into a takedown attempt, which Felder broke fee of but not before landing a slicing elbow.

Heading into the final round it was anyone’s fight, and after a steady start both began swinging.

With a minute to go, Hooker finally secured the takedown and take control. And while Felder managed to get to his feet, it was enough to cap another memorable day for New Zealand MMA.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT RESULTS

Main card

Lightweight: Dan Hooker defetaed Paul Felder via split decision 

Light-heavyweight: Jimmy Crute defeated Michal Oleksiejczuk via first-round submission

Women’s strawweight: Yan Xiaonan defeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz via unanimous decision

Heavyweight: Marcos Rogerio de Lima defeated Ben Sosoli via first-round TKO

Lightweight: Brad Riddell defeated Magomed Mustafaev via split decision

Prelims

Featherweight: Zubaira Tukhugov defeated Kevin Aguilar via first-round-TKO

Lightweight: Jalin Turner defeated Joshua Culibao via second-round TKO

Welterweight: Jake Matthews defeated Emil Weber Meek via unanimous decision.

Welterweight: Song Kenan defeated Callan Potter via first-round KO

Flyweight: Kai Kara-France defeated Tyson Nam via unanimous decision

Women’s strawweight: Angela Hill defeated Loma Lookboonmee via unanimous decision

Women’s flyweight: Priscila Cachoeira defeated Shana Dobson via first-round KO