Kicking off the main card at UFC Fight Night 128 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was a showdown between highly skilled lightweights Dan Hooker and Jim Miller.
In the build-up to this one, Hooker sparked controversy by referring to Atlantic City as a ‘sh*thole’.
“I’m here in the…’beautiful’…Atlantic City,” Hooker said during a Q&A with fans. He then went on to whisper into the camera: “It’s a sh*thole.”
The kiwi (15-7 before this fight) was a lot more respectful of his opponent than the venue in which they faced each other.
“Man, that guy’s [Jim Miller’s] had a black belt since I was 10 years old,” Hooker stated. “That guy is very strong; grappling, striking, he’s very well-rounded. I’m expecting a very tough matchup from Miller.”
Hooker also praised the New Jersey native in an earlier interview with Submission Radio:
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Jim Miller,” Hooker said. “I relish a name like that. I love it when you get that name and it’s someone you look up to, it’s someone you recognise their name and you think back to all the fights you’ve seen them have all the wars. So yeah, I like seeing the posters up there with our names squared off against each other.”
The exciting kiwi prospect had finished 14 of his 15 wins with seven knockouts and seven submissions but Jim Miller is as hard as they come and in 40 professional fights, had only been stopped on three occasions (two submissions and one knockout, courtesy of a Donald Cerrone headkick + punches).
And while he isn’t currently ranked inside the top 15, impressive back-to-back victories over Ross Pearson and Marc Diakiese in his last two fights meant that The Hangman knew a win over Miller would put him in line for a fight with a ranked opponent.
“I definitely want a ranked opponent after this fight; top 15, top 10. I’ll be asking for someone, definitely ranked – after this fight, should it all go well.”
— UFC Aus/New Zealand (@UFC_AUSNZ) March 1, 2018
Hooker came into this one as a strong favourite at $1.27 while Miller was paying $3.75 to get the upset win.
During the fight itself, Hooker proved why he was the betting favorite. With the overt size and reach advantage, he was fighting at a comfortable distance, not letting Miller get in. While Miller did score a takedown, Hooker was in command when the fight went back up to the feet.
When the action went to the fence, Hooker landed a knee that immediately dropped Miller, prompting the referee to step in and stop the action at the three-minute mark of the first round.
Check out some highlights of the finish here: