Kiwi UFC star Dan Hooker has returned to winning ways with a TKO over hometown fighter James Vick in San Antonio.
In his first bout for seven months, Hooker didn't waste any time getting to work as he planted Vick with a left hand hook inside the opening three minutes of the fight.
"I trained the hardest I've ever trained for a fight because I know you don't mess with Texas," Hooker said in the octagon after his win.
It was clear Hooker went into the fight wanting to cut the cage off for the longer and taller Vick. Working on the front foot for the majority of the fight, Hooker pressured Vick with leg kicks early and maintained his distance to mostly avoid the punches and kicks Vick threw.
The Texan did land a strong jab up the middle as Hooker pressed forward, but the Kiwi was able to shake it off and get right back to working his boxing combinations.
Hooker's knockout with the left hand hook came just 30 seconds after narrowly missing the exact same punch twice in quick succession, and was set up with a beautiful overhand right feint to draw Vick's hands away from his chin.
Both fighters came into the bout with losses in their most recent fights, after Hooker was beaten by Edson Barboza and Vick was toppled by Paul Felder.
The Kiwi has now finished 17 of his 19 wins and will likely return to the lightweight rankings later in the week.
Speaking to the Herald before the bout, Hooker said the seven month break had done wonders for him.
"It was kind of a blessing in disguise," he said. "I've never sat on the shelf for seven months before and it's kind of starting all over again. It's completely reset me, I feel like a new fighter after that amount of time."
Sustaining little damage in the bout, Hooker will be well positioned now to fight again in early October at the same event in which City Kickboxing teammate Israel Adesanya will fight for the undisputed middleweight championship.