Chase Hooper picked up his second submission win in the UFC at the promotion’s final PPV event of the year and after watching the fight back with commentary, he admits that it was tough to listen to at times.
Hooper earned a come-from-behind third-round submission win over Peter Barrett in the opening contest of UFC 256. “The Dream” got back on track after dropping a unanimous decision to Alex Caceres at June’s UFC 250 event.
After 10 minutes of action, a pair of judges scored the first two rounds for Barrett. The second, in particular, heard Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier discuss the effectiveness of Barrett’s leg kicks, even at around the 90-second mark of the round, Rogan said that Hooper’s “leg was done,” and that the 21-year-old needs to “pull guard.”
The result ended up in Hooper’s favor, but he believes he wasn’t in as much trouble as Rogan and “DC” made it out to be.”
“It was more one of those things where I was like, ‘F*ck, I should’ve checked those way earlier,’” Hooper told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck. “I should’ve been on top of that because we knew going in that he was going to throw a lot of leg kicks, but I was real focused on his overhand left [since] he likes to throw that a lot.
“I had actually been working a decent bit on switch-stance stuff, so I was kind of resting the leg up a little bit. I don’t think it was that close to being over with but it didn’t feel good, I can tell you that. I could’ve kept going.”
In the first round, Rogan and Cormier spent a good amount of time discussing the difference between Hooper’s grappling ability and what he can do on the feet. After Hooper landed an accidental low blow on Barrett, Rogan pointed out that there is much more of a seasoning period to develop fighters in boxing as opposed to MMA and even wondered if the octagon was the place for Hooper.
“Promoters [in boxing] put you against guys that you’re supposed to beat,” Rogan explained. “So when you see a young kid like Chase who’s got a lot of potential—he’s really tough—you almost wonder if maybe it would be better if he wasn’t in the UFC.”
Jon Anik would go on to explain that Hooper earned a developmental deal coming off of Dana White’s Contender Series, going unbeaten in three fights on the regional scene before getting the full-on featherweight roster spot.
Hooper believes there was some merit to what Rogan and Cormier had to say during the fight, but he wasn’t completely in agreement.
“It’s brutal to hear these people that you kind of idolize a little bit sh*tting all over you,” Hooper said. “It’s hard to deal with. Some points were valid but I just feel like it was a little more accentuated than it needed to be. Obviously, I know I need to work on my striking, and I’m getting that situated. I’m gonna go to Thailand and get the work in that I need.
“But I think, because of this narrative that people have that, ‘Oh, his striking is so bad,’ but I was holding my own to an extent. I never felt out of there, I didn’t get rocked, I didn’t get anything significant landed on me anywhere besides my legs, so I feel like I’m making the improvements, but that was glossed over.
“I heard they were pretty brutal the whole night, overall. It’s just a little harder when it’s about you specifically.”
After being down two rounds and needing a finish, Hooper was able to successfully complete an Imanari roll and after patiently waiting for his opening, he applied a heel hook which led to Barrett tapping.
While it was a comeback victory, Hooper felt that there was somewhat of a misconception as to the level how far behind people perceived him to be.
“You can see by my face that I don’t have a mark on me,” Hooper said. “It wasn’t a crazy, Rocky comeback like that but I feel like I let him control the distance too much. He, obviously, had the leg kicks, but there wasn’t a whole lot from either of us significantly back and forth scoring wise, so I definitely felt those leg kicks added up in that second round.
“So I didn’t feel like it was this crazy comeback, but I do think positionally because of those leg kicks, I was losing those first two rounds, but it was closer than people made it out to be. It was great to land that Imanari—which I’ve been practicing for months now—get to that position and realize, ‘I still have like three minutes left. I can take my time and kind of hang out here.’
“I was able to get into that Honey Hole position, where essentially both of my legs are safe, almost completely, and I have real good control over his leg where I was able to heel hook.”
Following the win, Hooper didn’t give a specific timeline for when he’d like to return, but stated he was planning on taking that trip to Thailand sooner rather than later. He hopes to spend some time getting better in all aspects of the game before he makes his fourth walk to the octagon and is taking his development quite seriously.
“I feel like I need to get crisper and sharpen everything up,” Hooper stated. “I want to spend some more time with Ben (Askren), but more wrestling oriented, maybe if I can get to Ryan Hall’s before the next fight and tune some stuff up there. The fights are going to get exponentially more tough so I need to be prepared for that.
“I’m just going to hone my craft, keep getting better, and showing people that I deserve to be here so, hopefully, the commentary is not as negative next time.”