Kiwi Dan Hooker secures a UFC fight in Japan
Kiwi UFC rookie Dan Hooker has done enough to earn a glamour fight in Japan.
The 24-year-old Aucklander has been confirmed on the card of the organisation's Japan promotion on September 20.
Hooker is set to fight unpredictable Venuzuelan Maximo Blanco in a featherweight contest.
They will feature on a night at the Saitama Super Arena headlined by New Zealand heavyweight Mark Hunt, who takes on giant American Roy Nelson.
Hooker did enough on his UFC debut in Auckland last month to convince his bosses he's worth another go. His first round win over Ian Entwhistle was brutal, coming via some heavy elbow work.
He has a blossoming MMA record that has seen the judges not needed for 10 of his 11 victories, including eight first round finishes, and is on a six-win streak heading to Japan.
Having spent most of his career as a lightweight, Hooker, dubbed "The Hangman", has looked comfortable since dropping down a weight division where he is unusually tall at 1.82m.
But he will have his hands full against Blanco.
The 30-year-old pushes the limits. He has twice been disqualified for illegal blows to the heads of opponents and has seven wins by knockout.
Blanco has strong connections to Japan. He was a national wrestling champion of Venezuela before being recruited by Sendai Ikuei High School in Japan. Ikuei is known as a wrestling powerhouse in Japan and schooled Blanco on his floor work. He also shone at university wrestling in Japan before turning professional in 2008.