In one weekend, Aotearoa's combat sport presence was blasted into a new realm as Auckland City Kickboxing comrades Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker enjoyed slick UFC wins. This means that the#KiwiNRL winter extravaganza is wrapped up with a 4-0 result and AKCKB enjoyed a trio of wins during this period with Shane Young getting things started a few weeks ago.
Wins are wins and the most important thing for both Adesanya and Hooker was getting the W. By winning, they announced to the UFC world that they are genuinely worthy of ranked opponents, how they went about getting those wins though was hugely important and with Adesanya showcasing all his skills in out-classing Brad Tavares and Hooker finishing Gilbert Burns, it was the perfect #KiwiUFC weekend.
Adesanya kinda put on a clinic and while many have come to expect Adesanya to put on striking clinics, his working in snuffing Tavares' takedowns, then also dabbling in his own submissions made this an all-round clinic. 119 significant strikes for Adesanya vs 40 for Tavares and keeping Tavares to 1/12 successful takedowns tells the story. Adesanya didn't just stay at distance and pick his shots, he showed off an impressive ground game and consistently landed awkward strikes in close, that only he can.
Five rounds later and Adesanya had snatched the soul of Tavares, also showing that Adesanya can maintain control over five rounds. This fight saw Adesanya out-class a respected, experienced opponent over five rounds, in striking and on the ground, thus putting the division on notice.
Hooker was equally as impressive, getting a 1st round TKO against Burns. In a few of the interviews, Hooker outlined his disappointment in the quick fight and it's hard not to love Hooker's perspective; he's not in it to smoke blokes, he wants to challenge himself and level up.
Knowing the impact of cutting weight, Hooker suggested that Burns' weight cut played a part in the fairly easy knockout as Hooker reckons he didn't hit Burns that hard. Hooker has shown how beneficial limiting the effects of a weight cut can be by moving up a weight division and Hooker now looks like a beast at the lightweight division. He's now 4-0 after moving up from featherweight to lightweight and he genuinely looks big, physically imposing with an all-round game to match; he has one KO win by punches, two KO wins by knees and a guillotine choke submission in his four-straight wins at lightweight.
Four wins and all four coming via finishes, against strong opposition. The last three wins have also come in the USA, putting Hooker in front of more people and as the buzz around Adesanya only increases, Hooker is demanding attention as well. We'll worry about Hooker's next fight when it's announced, rest assured that Hooker will get what he wants and a far greater challenge.
This weekend has not only put Aotearoa on the map as a mixed-martial-arts breeding ground, it has specifically highlighted the fantastic work of AKCKB and head coach Eugene Bareman. Adesanya is 3-0 in the UFC and Hooker is 4-0 as a UFC lightweight, with super impressive performances and both pay a huge amount of credit to Bareman and their coaching staff.
Everyone now knows about Adesanya and Hooker, they can no longer be ignored by anyone. With that, more people now know of AKCKB, Bareman and the other staff, the place and people that have helped Adesanya and Hooker get to this point. Shane Young and Kai Kara France are emerging on the UFC horizon out of AKCKB, heavyweight boxer Junior Fa is making waves as well and we may be looking at one of the best combat sport stables in the world, if not right now then in the coming years.
Here's all the reaction from the weekend:
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Peace and love 27.