Daniel Hooker added to UFC Brisbane to make it three Kiwi fighters on card
Three New Zealand mixed martial artists will fight at the upcoming UFC Fight Night in Brisbane after featherweight Daniel Hooker was added to the card on Thursday.
The UFC confirmed to Stuff the 25-year-old from Auckland will face Mark Eddiva of the Philippines at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Sunday, March 20.
Kiwi heavyweight Mark Hunt is headlining the event against former two-time UFC champion Frank Mir, while Canterbury-born middleweight James Te Huna is making his comeback from a two-year injury layoff when he squares off with Canadian Steve Bosse.
With a record of 12-6 as a professional, Hooker went to 2-2 in the UFC when he suffered a unanimous points loss to rising Mexican star Yair Rodriguez at UFC 192 in Houston at the start of October last year.
Four years older than Hooker at 29, Eddiva is also coming off a loss after ending up on the wrong end of a split decision to Levan Makashvili at the UFC Fight Night in the Philippines in May last year.
That result took Eddiva to 6-2 as a pro, but 1-2 during his almost two years with the UFC.
Along with his 9cm height and 17cm reach advantage, Hooker will be hopeful his training programme since his defeat to Rodriguez will give him an edge as he aims for a return to the winner's circle.
The Kiwi has been based at altitude in Denver, Colorado with Team Elevation, whose products include recently dethroned bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and welterweight contenders Neil Magny and Matt Brown.
American fighter Magny is also on the Brisbane card, facing off in an intriguing match-up against Cuban-Australian Hector Lombard.
A well-rounded fighter, Hooker will be preparing for a different challenge than the one he faced in Houston.
Rodriguez is a dangerous striker and the Kiwi could not find a way to contend with the Mexican's speed and unpredictability, while Eddiva's strength is as a wrestler meaning he is likely to want the bout to go to ground.
Hooker told MediaWorks earlier this month he had been enjoying the training environment in Denver and was highly motivated for his next fight.
"I kind of let myself down. I know I can do a lot better," he said.
"I can't even stand to watch [my last] fight. I just don't really think that was me and I can do so much better.
"This fight, it's not so much about focussing on the other guy, it's just about going in there and fighting to the best of my abilities. I think when I do that, I can beat any fighter in the world."
The event also looms as a big night for Hunt and Te Huna.
No 9 ranked Hunt, 41, is looking to get past No 10 ranked Mir and make one last run at the heavyweight belt, while Te Huna will be determined to make a statement on his return after last appearing in a first round defeat to Nate Marquardt in Auckland in May, 2014.