Hooker (20-10 MMA, 10-6 UFC) obtained his U.S. visa on Monday morning and is set to arrive just two days before his fight against Nasrat Haqparast (13-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) on Saturday.
Hooker’s struggles to make it in and out of New Zealand since the COVID-19 pandemic hit have been well documented. After getting stopped in the first round by Michael Chandler at UFC 257 in January, he was forced to spend a month in the United Arab Emirates, before returning home for a mandatory two-week quarantine. So with New Zealand’s tight restrictions, Hooker is concerned about his fighting future.
“Oh man, that’s gotta be done,” Hooker told Submission Radio on moving to the U.S. “That’s got to be the next step. So, they changed MiQ, booking the quarantine system. They changed the booking system this morning. I think it had something like 26,000 people sign up for 3000 spots. I believe 20 people from City Kickboxing entered the lottery. So, it’s like a lottery system. 26,000 people go in the pool, and they pull 3000 of them out in like a different order and they can select their dates.
“Not one of the 20 City Kickboxing coaches and fighters, not a single one got a spot in quarantine for the rest of the year. So, if was to do that, what are we gonna do? You miss the lottery pool four times and that’s a year gone. You can’t play the lottery four times, and if you lose it all four times you just don’t earn a paycheck that entire year. That’s absolutely ridiculous. So, it looks like we have to do it. It would be awesome if we could do it as a team. I know a couple of the guys have spoken about it individually, but if that kind of move could be made as a team, that could be incredible.”
Hooker is not the only City Kickboxing fighter struggling with the current lockdown laws. Middleweight king Israel Adesanya’s title defense rematch against Robert Whittaker has been pushed to 2022 due to the current restrictions and with the lottery determining his team’s activity in the cage, Hooker thinks a team move to the U.S. is bound to solve all their problems.