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Dan Hooker embracing hometown headline fight, says there's 'bad blood' with UFC opponent


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Hooker said he'll sort out his issues with Paul Felder in the octagon next year. Source: 1 NEWS

Kiwi mixed martial arts fighter Dan Hooker is eager to put on another show on home soil when he headlines UFC Auckland next year - and he's got some inspiration for doing it.

Hooker was in Auckland today promoting his fight alongside his opponent Paul Felder when he revealed the pair respect each other but there's some underlying issues that will be sorted out in the fight.

"We'll sort it out, regardless," Hooker told 1 NEWS.

"It's a gentleman's agreement - we're going to meet on that day and to a point, yes, it is the fight game, and whatever bad blood there is will be sorted out."

Backing up that tension was an intense staredown the pair engaged in outside Spark Arena this morning - the venue for their fight.

"He's a man I respect, he's another proud man but it just means the courtesy has changed a bit, the handshakes aren't there - it means something. It means 'you're alright with me', which is why the handshake isn't there.

"Some things have been said."

Hooker will fight in the UFC octagon on New Zealand soil for a third time when he takes on Felder in February. He has won by knockout on his two previous occasions and he wants to do the same next year too in a bout he considers the most important of his career to date.

"Main-eventing in your home town in front of 10,000 people you know - I have only but one objective and that is to get the job done and put Paul away"

Adding to the event is where both fighters are in their careers.

Since moving up to lightweight two years ago - ironically at the last Auckland UFC Fight Night, when he knocked out Ross Person with a knee - Hooker has climbed the ladder to sit seventh in the UFC's ranks while earning a 7-1 record in the weight class.

One spot above him is Felder, meaning the winner of the February 23 fight will inch ever closer to a title shot.

"I feel like a win here puts you very close to the title," Hooker said.

"I think one more fight after this one and you'd be definitely be in the running for a title."