Chase Hooper’s recent performance at UFC Fight Night 232 has highlighted his growing prowess within the sport. On a notable Saturday at the UFC Apex, Hooper, with a professional record of 13-3-1 MMA and 5-3 in the UFC, faced off against Jordan Leavitt, who entered the bout with a record of 11-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC. The lightweight contest concluded with Hooper securing a victory via rear-naked choke in the first round. This win is particularly significant for Hooper, marking his second consecutive victory since ascending from the featherweight division earlier in the year.
The match between Hooper and Leavitt was a showcase of intense grappling, a testament to both fighters’ skill in this domain. Hooper, demonstrating his tactical edge, capitalized on a mistake by Leavitt to secure the finish. Reflecting on his performance, Hooper shared at the post-fight news conference, ““I was expecting a lot longer of a fight, a lot of tougher of a fight. But I snaked it up early, and that’s a win, obviously. … I always surprise myself when I come out with a finish, or a win in general. I always go in kind of more pessimistic and then like to surprise myself by having a good outcome. (I) can’t really get a better outcome than that.”
Hooper’s preference for grappler-versus-grappler matchups illustrates his enthusiasm for the technical complexities of mixed martial arts. He embraces these challenges, seeing them as opportunities to test his skills against equally adept opponents. Discussing potential future matchups, Hooper expressed interest in facing Claudio Puelles, noting, “I’d like someone like a Claudio Puelles. He beat Jordan, I believe, by decision. Then he also has a kneebar win over Clay Guida. I just beat Jordan tonight, and I’ve got a calf slicer over Clay in a grappling match. But still, I would love to fight another guy that’s big into leg locks – another big jiu-jitsu guy in the division. Tonight is the perfect example. Those are fun matchups, and I think they’re fun to watch. It’s a style of grappling people can get down with.”
Looking ahead, Hooper’s aspirations for 2024 include staying active in the lightweight division. With personal changes on the horizon, as he anticipates the birth of his first child, Hooper’s motivation seems to have intensified. He quipped, “I’ve got to start making a little more of that dad money. I’d like to be a little bit more active, especially here at ’55 where I don’t have to cut as hard. I’d like to get three fights in.” This combination of professional ambition and personal responsibility highlights Hooper’s maturity and commitment both inside and outside the octagon.
For Jordan Leavitt, this loss was a significant emotional blow. After the fight, he shared on social media his momentary consideration of retiring from the sport. Leavitt, known as ‘The Monkey King,’ felt this defeat deeply, especially with the presence of his wife and mom in the crowd and a successful weight cut that had seemingly set him up for success. Reflecting on the fight, Leavitt admitted, “I’m doing well. I’m escaping submissions, trying to gas him out. I’m landing damaging ground and pound and I just; mental vacation. Got my back, I didn’t fight the right hand, embarrassing stuff. At least I feel like it’s embarrassing. Yeah, I don’t know where I go from here.”
Hooper, in response, showed his respect and camaraderie towards Leavitt: “This fight was a little different for me being against a guy that I already knew and liked. It’s hard to want to hurt someone you like. Jordan’s a great guy and an absolute gentleman. I wish nothing but the best for him and his family 🙏🏼🙏🏼”
Leavitt’s UFC journey began with a bang in 2020, following his time on Dana White’s Contender Series. His debut was marked by a stunning slam KO victory over Matt Wiman in less than 30 seconds. Despite a subsequent loss to Claudio Puelles and a rear-naked choke defeat by Paddy Pimblett, Leavitt bounced back with a first-round finish against Victor Martinez earlier this year, before facing Hooper.
As Hooper eyes more grappler-centric matchups and Leavitt contemplates his next move, fans eagerly await the unfolding of these fighters’ journeys, each unique yet intertwined in the grand tapestry of MMA.