Dan Hooker is getting the next best thing in Islam Makhachev.

Hooker made headlines recently when he decided to step in for Rafael dos Anjos and fight Islam Makhachev at UFC 267 later this month — all despite only competing last weekend.

There were many reasons why the fight appealed to Hooker and being able test himself against the closest thing to former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was one of them.

“If I could fight any lightweight on the face of the planet, it would be Khabib,” Hooker told MMA Fighting. “I want to see how I measure up with him. It’s no lie that Islam’s the next best thing.

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“Beating Islam is the only opportunity you’re going to get to show what would have happened if you got in there with Khabib when he was champion. There’s a lot of exciting aspects about this fight. It’s just another one. I feel like it’s a perfect time for this fight to come together.”

There’s also the fact that Hooker is expecting a title shot with a potential win over Makhachev.

“Everyone’s putting him on a pedestal,” Hooker added. “Every guy is showing a lot of respect for his abilities and making a lot of comparisons with Khabib. It will be a great opportunity.

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“I feel like this is a massive fight. A win here puts you in title contention. That’s another thing that’s obviously exciting.”

But despite all the praise Hooker is receiving for stepping in and being a fighter’s fighter, he is not simply doing it just to get credit — he very much plans on winning.

“You’re the man if you win,” Hooker said. “I don’t fight for the sake of fighting. I fight to win. That’s my main concentration right now. I don’t want to live off the credit of taking fights. I want to life off the credit of beating the best guys in the world.”

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UFC 267 takes place October 30 in Abu Dhabi and is headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira.

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