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Dan Hooker dismisses criticism of teammate Israel Adesanya: ‘It’s just dumb. It’s just not how the sport works’

Dan Hooker on The MMA Hour

Dan Hooker has no patience for critics of his teammate Israel Adesanya.

At UFC 276, Adesanya defended his middleweight title for the fifth time, winning a unanimous decision over Jared Cannonier. Given how much Adesanya hyped up the bout beforehand, his lackluster performance drew criticism from fans for the perception that Adesanya was coasting, criticism that Adesanya refuted and that Hooker believes is simply asinine.

“It’s just dumb. [Laughs]. It’s just not how the sport works,” Hooker told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “You’re the champion, the other guy wants the title, you’re clearly winning the fight, it’s not on you. It’s not on you to push the fight. The other guy wants the title. You’re clearly winning. It’s not time to brawl when you’re clearly winning. If that guy takes risks and now the fight becomes very even, now Israel’s going to have bite down and fight.”

Hooker is not the only City Kickboxing fighter to come to Adesanya’s defense. Featherweight champion and No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, Alexander Volkanovski also defended his teammate with much the same reasoning: that it’s incumbent upon the challenger to make something happen. Hooker obviously agrees, and points to Kamaru Usman’s loss to Leon Edwards as proof of what they’re saying.

“These guys have to make him fight, but to say that he should — look what happened to Usman this weekend! A single mistake in this game and now you’re just turned into a meme in one moment,” Hooker said. “He went from the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet to a meme in one moment. That’s how quickly this cruel game can change. It’s the same for Israel. You don’t think if he makes one — why should he? Why should he take the risk? It’s on his opponents to take the risk.

“If your biggest criticism as the world champion is that you don’t get hit enough, [laughs], you don’t know how silly that sounds until you lose the title, until you take a silly risk and lose the title. They sound dumb when they say it.”

Adesanya will have a chance to put the criticism surrounding him to bed when puts his middleweight title on the line against former kickboxing rival Alex Pereira in the main event of UFC 281 on Nov. 12 at Madison Square Garden.

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