UFC 257 Fight Island Betting Pick: Dan Hooker vs Michael Chandler

UFC 257 is just hours away and I couldn’t be more excited to see The Notorious Conor McGregor back in action against Dustin Poirier who has had nearly 7 years of good luck since the Irishman caught him behind the ear back in late Summer 2014.

The two were just wee little Featherweights at the time and they have since grown into their bodies and into the top 5 of the UFC’s Lightweight Division. They both got a title shot and they both lost to the most dominant fighter in UFC history not named Anderson Silva, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

I had to, sorry. I was just telling some friends that this is a really good show coming up. Many times when the company has one of their big name fighters headlining the event, the rest of the card is nothing special.

This is, of course, because they know people will pay for it solely based on the main event. This is not the case, though, for this coming weekend’s UFC 257. There are 5 fights on the card that could be main events.

This, of course, includes the co-main event of fellow Lightweight contenders Michael Chandler and Dan Hooker. If you aren’t familiar with Michael Chandler, get ready for a fun fight because this guy doesn’t know how to have a boring one.

The same can definitely be said for the man welcoming him to the Octagon, New Zealand’s Dan The Hangman Hooker. Dan will be the rangy accurate striker while Michael is pure American muscle. He was an All American at the University of Missouri in the sport of wrestling and has spent the vast majority of his professional career fighting inside the Bellator cage.

Mike was a champion there and has had a couple of questionable losses just like Hooker but they both appear to just not quite UFC World Champion level. Maybe in another weight class, they have enough talent, heart, power, and toughness but where they are now at Lightweight, it is going to be very tough. 155 is the most stacked division in the UFC and it makes sense why. The average height around the world is about 5’10 and people weigh around 170 or 175. Therefore, you have a larger group of elite athletes and mixed martial artists to choose from.

This makes what Khabib Nurmagomedov has been able to do even more incredible.

We aren’t here to talk about whether or not Mike Chander or Danny Hooks can defeat Khabib or Conor. Let’s focus on who wins between the two men and how.

It isn’t an easy call but I think the betting line still has some value we could squeeze out of it. BetOnline.AG has the betting odds for this matchup. Let’s take a glimpse at those and make a prediction on a winner, round total, or possibly a method of victory.

Dan Hooker (-130) vs Michael Chandler (+110)

I’m hearing a lot of different opinions on this fight. Dan Hooker does have solid takedown defense but is solid enough to stuff an All American as strong and explosive as Michael Chandler?

The fight is just 3 rounds, of course, since it isn’t for a title or the main event. Who does that help? I think it evens out for the most part. We have seen Hooker fade before but that is from a Dustin Poirier pace that I don’t think Michael Chandler can or even wants to keep.

I like Chandler’s ability to get the fight to the mat early on and maybe steal the first round but I think it will become increasingly more difficult for Mike to get The Hangman to the mat. Why do they call him that, by the way?

It is because of his guillotine. I remember when I first learned the arm out guillotine and I called it a horizontal hanging. I suppose I wasn’t the first and soon Dan Hooker, a striker, has it in his nickname.

That may be a mistake, though, and actually count against him in the handicapping process as well as the fight itself. Here is why. If a guy has a good guillotine, he is likely to go for it. Generally speaking, when you go for the finish on a guillotine, you are more or less conceding the takedown.

Most cornermen will coach against this. If you get it, the fight is over and that is awesome but speaking generally once more, at the highest level of mixed martial arts, fighters are better at defending submissions than finishing them.

Please Note:
Michael Chandler is a very tough guy to submit. He has been wrestling for his entire life, barely has a neck, and has been in the MMA game training at the best gyms in the world for over a decade. People think just because he hasn’t been in the UFC, Mike Chandler isn’t getting better at nearly the same rate. That is not the case. Bellator has good competition at 155 but it’s mostly the places he has trained. He is now at Sanford MMA in South Florida. Before that, he was training with Dominick Cruz in San Diego at Alliance MMA. Mike even got his start at Xtreme Couture back in the old days when Mike Quicksand Pyle ruled the roost.

This isn’t an easy fight to predict at all but we will find our angle.

Both men have great calf kicks. Dan will hold a significant reach advantage of 4 inches along with 4 inches in height. How has Mike performed in the past against tall long lightweights?

Hmmm…Interesting. Mike has fought 4 guys taller than 5’8” in the past 7 years. Dan Hooker is 6’ even and every bit of it if you ask me. He looks taller.

Chandler lost all of those fights except for one to Brent Primus but he also lost to Brent in that span.

Will Brooks is 5’10 and he beat Mike twice. So, that is alarming. He surely knows how to fight taller fighters but according to his record, Chandler has had the most trouble when guys have a couple of inches on him.

Now, how has Dan Hooker done against fighters nearly or even as short and stocky as the 5’8” powerhouse?

Dustin Poirier is 5’9” and he just beat Dan but for the first two rounds, Hooker was really putting it on him. Dan lost to Maximo Blanco back in 2014. He is a short stocky guy like Chandler but since then, Hooker has specialized in defeating fighters who were 3 or 4 inches shorter. Pearson, Diakese, Miller, and even Gilbert Burns all fell victim to the Hangman. Al Iaquinta is on that list as well. Burns, Al, and Miller are all good wrestlers but still failed to get the win against the Kiwi. Other than Poirier, Dan’s last 3 losses have all come against long strikers like himself; Barboza, Jason Knight, and Yair Rodriguez. The writing is on the wall here for Dan to get the win 2 out of 3 times these two fight.

That’s where I have it. That is (-200). I know it sounds a little crazy but I just gave you some pretty solid evidence. Chandler has the ability to win, of course, but I think in a large Octagon over just 3 rounds, Dan Hooker will use his range effectively.

My Pick
Dan Hooker!

In Conclusion

No, no method of victory prop bets for me this time around. Both men are as accurate and powerful as they are durable so that is tough to call. The fight goes to a decision prop is even money which means that is better odds than those for Hooker’s moneyline.

There are just so many ways this one could end early but when you have two fighters with such high levels of skill, one guy getting enough of an advantage to finish the other isn’t likely.

A flash knockdown for either guy, though, is very possible.

I will stay away from the round totals. I think anyone who is betting one side or the other is flipping a coin. That’s where the odds are and the books probably have it right.

Please Note:
I don’t, however, believe that they got this one right between Dan Hooker and Michael Chandler. The Kiwi has the superior height and range. It will behoove him, though, to give up a couple of inches of height by lowering his level at the knees. This shrinks the overhand right window that the shorter guy has on his taller opponent. It also puts Dan in a better position to defend the inevitable shot on his legs from the All American. This isn’t Dan’s first time fighting a strong wrestler, though, and he has succeeded in almost every attempt.

When Mike fights the taller guys, he doesn’t have nearly as much success and that is my hill for the play. If we die on that hill, then so be it but we have an edge on the books and I say we wager 1.5 units on The Hangman.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.

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