Featherweight Chase Hooper is quickly becoming one of the hottest prospects on the UFC roster. The 20-year-old is popular among fight fans for his exciting fight style, quirky personality, and his unassuming appearance. Hooper took time out to speak exclusively to LowKickMMA about his meteoric rise, the future, M&M’s, Ben Askren and leaving a legacy.
Just out of his teenage years, Hooper is the youngest fighter in the UFC. He earned his shot on the big show when appearing on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS) in 2018. Just 18-years-old at the time he picked up the win, showing grit, toughness, and a ton of skills in the process. Looking back Hooper told us about how he got his start in martial arts and whats got him to this level so quickly.
When starting jiu-jitsu at eight-years-old, Hooper was admittedly “the shy, awkward kid, and didn’t have a lot of friends.” This turned out to be a blessing as he committed himself to the sport which was his “one main outlet”, he explained.
“The gym was the one thing that I had growing up and I grew up watching all of these older guys at the gym fighting and getting ready for fights, including my coach, who made his UFC debut when I was 11, so naturally I looked up to a lot of the other people who had been doing it for a long time and I dedicated myself to the sport.”
After slowly moving through ranks in jiu-jitsu he graduated to MMA. Hooper now finds himself on the crest of a wave after a fantastic year in the sport, reflecting, he said.
“2019 has definitely been the best year of my life so far. I was able to get three finishes, stay undefeated, and end the year off by making my UFC debut on the last pay-per-view of the decade.”
The significance of making it to the UFC at such a young age isn’t lost on Hooper. “I feel so much pride and self-confidence that I never felt before.”
The Washington native stopped Daniel Teymur in his UFC debut late last year. Since then, he hasn’t fought or been given any indication of who he’ll be fighting next. However, Hooper is hoping to fight in April or May, before competing a couple more times in 2020. But don’t expect the prospect to be mixing it at the top anytime soon. His feet remain firmly on the floor despite the significant hype surrounding him.
“I want to take my time to work up through the division. Being the youngest guy, there’s no reason to try and rush anything. The thing that I have more of than anyone else on the whole UFC roster right now is time, so I’m trying to do it right and have a good long career.”
This savvy career plan is something his promoters are fully on board with. The UFC is known for throwing people in the deep end, but they appear to be taking a different approach with Hooper and with good reason. “I think the UFC sees the potential I have to have a long career and make them a lot of money.”
Away from fighting Hooper is something of an M&M connoisseur. So, we asked him the question on everyone’s lips. When are we going to see you link up with the guys at M&M?
Without revealing too much Hooper told us he does have something cooking with his favorite chocolate brand after the UFC sponsorship team got involved. “I’m going on a trip to Vegas near the end of February for some M&M related content.”
Another goal of his outside of the cage is to build a better relationship with “Dad”, Ben Askren. The recently retired welterweight and Hooper have been involved in some fun interactions online and through interviews, but are yet to meet. A close encounter at UFC 246 is all Hooper has to hang on to so far, although he hopes to put that right in 2020.
“I DM back and forth with Ben every now and again on Twitter, but we haven’t actually gotten to hang out yet. We were super close when he was cornering Maycee (Barber) at UFC 246 and I was there for Fight Pass, but she got hurt, so he was preoccupied with her and I had to leave the next day.” Hooper explained. “Hoping that we can meet up soon, whether it be at a fight, or me going to train with him at his gym.”
If you look past his young age and his fun demeanor, Hooper is dead serious about MMA. The undefeated fighter is intent on leaving his mark on the sport. This is just the start, from here the 20-year-old wants to build a legacy in MMA and beyond.
“I want to have a long career in the UFC”. Hooper said. “I want to leave a legacy that I can be proud of. I want to be able to live out the rest of my life comfortably and be able to pass on my knowledge to the next generation of fighters or grapplers.”
Now is the time to jump on the Chase Hooper train. The rising star wants as many people on board as possible. When we asked him why fight fans should tune in to see him, he said the following.
“I feel that I’m different from the majority of fighters. I definitely am not a super jacked dude covered in tattoos. I look more like a kid that gets his lunch money stolen than a UFC fighter. I also don’t try to act like I am one of those macho tough guys. I’m a pretty normal, genuine guy, but I’m young, and I feel like I have a fun style that makes grappling more interesting to watch than how a lot of other guys do it.”
Does Chase Hooper have what it takes to be UFC champion and a star of the sport?