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UFC 281 results: Dan Hooker gets back on track with body shot knockout to stop Claudio Puelles

UFC 281: Adesanya v Pereira Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Dan Hooker got a much needed win on Saturday after he stopped Claudio Puelles with a series of devastating body kicks in the second round at UFC 281.

Following back-to-back losses at lightweight and featherweight, Hooker absolutely wanted to avoid a third defeat in a row but he looked determined in his efforts as he fought a smart and calculated game plan after thwarting the grappling attempts from Puelles. Once it was clear Hooker wasn’t giving up the takedown, he started blasting Puelles with a series of front kicks to the body.

The final kick landed and Puelles just crumbled to the mat with referee Keith Peterson waiving off the fight with the official stoppage coming at 4:06 in the second round.

“They don’t believe in us. God did,” Hooker said afterwards. “I’m 6-foot with a vicious hook. I make nails looks soft. Perth, I’m coming for you. Any man walking on the face of this Earth can get it.”

With a height and reach advantage, Hooker looked to maintain the distance with a series of kicks from the outside but Puelles countered by diving on an ankle and dragging him to the ground. A notable leg-lock specialist, Puelles was attacking immediately, looking for heel hooks and then a knee bar but Hooker managed to stay patient until he found a way to escape.

Back on the feet, Hooker was clearly the better striker but still being careful not to overextend himself to allow Puelles to grab him for another grappling exchange. Hooker started snapping off a straight right hand that was giving Puelles serious trouble.

The crowd was also growing frustrated with Puelles as he continued to drop down and grab for a leg but when he couldn’t finish the takedown, the Peruvian fighter just kept falling to his back.

Late in the second round, Hooker started planting a front kick into Puelles’ midsection and it was clear he didn’t have an answer for those strikes as he continued to absorb them without offering much in the way of reprisal to his opponent.

Finally with Puelles still backing up, Hooker threw one more kick that landed straight to the gut. Puelles grimaced in pain and fell to the ground as Peterson saw enough to stop the fight before further damage was inflicted.

With the win, Hooker is now setting his sights on UFC 284 in February as the promotion returns to Australia as he looks to fight close to his native New Zealand for the first time since 2020.

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