LAS VEGAS – Featherweight wasn’t kind to Chase Hooper physically, which is why he’s so happy lightweight is off to a great start.
On Saturday at UFC Fight Night 224, Hooper (12-3-1 MMA, 4-3 UFC) dominated New England Cartel fighter Nick Fiore (6-2 MMA, 0-2 UFC) en route to a sweep of every round on all three judges’ scorecards.
“It felt great this week,” Hooper told MMA Junkie and other reporters. “I think I showed with my performance I was able to push the pace. This is where I’m starting to hit my stride, in my seventh UFC fight.”
Hooper, 23, has been on the official UFC roster since 2019. He joined the UFC system a year prior when he earned a development deal on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018. Hooper was 18 at the time. His youth posed unusual problems as Hooper not only needed to adjust to a fighter’s lifestyle, but his body was also going through changes as well. Eventually, featherweight didn’t make much sense.
“I was probably walking around at 185, which I was still making it,” Hooper said. “The issue is that my body would stop with the diet. It would stop losing weight at about 170, 175. I had to switch the last couple weeks of my fight camps to like protein shakes only. Protein shakes and then I’d have like little packets of honey before training. So I was murdering myself trying to get down to 145. I had to vegetarian that whole time, too. I was really restricting myself in and out of fight camp trying to fight puberty and stay at 145. I think, in the end, it was doing more harm than good. I feel great at 155 now.”
Hooper indicated lightweight is his home for the foreseeable future. He hopes his performances in the cage continue to improve, as the online jabs decrease.
“I started eating meat again. I started lifting a little harder. Hopefully that shows in the fight,” Hooper said. “Hopefully I’m a little more muscular looking. Not as many people are calling me skinny on the internet. I don’t think I need to put any more size on and I think it showed tonight. I was able to keep up with a guy who’s been at (lightweight) his whole career. He’s a decent sized lightweight. He’s not undersized. Neither am I. It just let me know I’m in the right spot.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 224.