UFC on ESPN+ 26 Betting Breakdown: Dan Hooker vs. Paul Felder

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MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the main event of UFC on ESPN+ 26, a five-round lightweight bout between Dan Hooker and Paul Felder. The event takes place on Saturday, February 22 at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand.

Dan Hooker (-150)

Hooker (19-8) is one of the top-10 ranked lightweights in the UFC. The 30-year-old New Zealander is 9-4 in the UFC since making his Octagon debut in 2014. He went 3-3 as a featherweight before moving up to lightweight, where he’s gone 6-1 since. Hooker is currently riding a two-fight win streak over Al Iaquinta and James Vick, and also has notable wins in the UFC over Jim Miller, Gilbert Burns, and Hatsu Hioki. Hooker is a very aggressive fighter who is known for finishing his opponents in devastating fashion both on the feet and on the mat. Of his 19 career wins, 17 of them have come by stoppage, making him a very dangerous fighter at 155lbs. Of course, that comes with a price, as Hooker typically takes a lot of damage in his fights, though he is quite durable for the most part. Hooker is quickly emerging as a legitimate title threat in the lightweight division and a win over Felder in this five-round main event at UFC Auckland will get him one step closer to securing one.

Paul Felder (+130)

Felder (17-4) is also one of the top-10 ranked lightweights in the UFC. The 34-year-old American is 9-4 in the UFC since making his promotional debut in 2014, which includes an 8-4 record at lightweight. Felder is currently riding a two-fight win streak over Edson Barboza and Vick, and he also has notable wins over Charles Oliveira, Stevie Ray, and Josh Burkman. Felder is a very technical striker who is known for outstriking his opponents and being able to go a hard 15 minutes. Felder is able to finish his opponents as his 11 stoppage wins attest to, and he’s also quite durable having been finished just once in his MMA career. Felder is also looking to emerge as a title contender at 155lbs and beating Hooker in his home country would certainly help get him there.

Fight Breakdown: This is going to be a very fun fight for however long it lasts. Considering how dangerous both of these guys are on the feet and how often they both finish their fights, I don’t see this one going the full five-round distance. I think this is going to be a very fan-friendly fight between two men who prefer to stand and trade. Hooker is a bit more wild, while Felder is more technical, so that makes for a very intriguing matchup. My pick is going to be Hooker. He’s a bit younger, a bit more powerful, and he’s fighting at home. Those advantages should help give him a small edge over Felder in what is a very close fight on paper. As tough as Felder is, 25 minutes is a lot of time to stand and trade with Hooker. My pick is for Hooker to eventually finish this fight via TKO.

Prediction: Dan Hooker wins via TKO

Written by Adam Martin.

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