In quite astonishing circumstances, UFC lightweight contender, Dan Hooker is set to delay his return to his native New Zealand amid the ongoing travel restrictions in the country — in a bid to travel to Abu Dhabi, UAE — replacing former lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos in a short-notice UFC 267 bout with Islam Makhachev.

Hooker, who competed just last weekend at UFC 266, bested Nasrat Haqparast with an impressive unanimous decision victory, however, the Auckland native struggled to obtain a United States VISA to attend the event due to travel restrictions in place amid the ongoing COVID-19, limited to arrival on the Thursday of fight week.

Successfully making weight and besting Haqparast in a preliminary bout showdown, Hooker, as per UFC president Dana White as reported by ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto — will replace dos Anjos and meet Makhachev next month on ‘Fight Island”.

DAN HOOKER (@danthehangman) is stepping into face Islam Makhachev (@MAKHACHEVMMA) at UFC 267 in one month, per Dana White (@danawhite),” Okamoto tweeted. “Just fought at UFC 266, on a week he had to fly from New Zealand to Vegas two days before the fight. What a savage, this guy.

For dos Anjos, the Niteroi native was forced from the third rescheduled bout with Makhachev after he underwent arthroscopy knee surgery to address a meniscus injury, forcing him to withdraw from the bout with the Makhachkala native.

For American Kickboxing Academy mainstay, Makhachev, the short-notice pairing with Hooker offers him the opportunity to remain on the October 30. card in Abu Dhabi, UAE — as well as make his third Octagon walk of the year.

In the midst of a stunning eight-fight undefeated surge, Makhachev submitted both Drew Dober and Thiago Moises with stunning choke wins at UFC 239 and UFC Vegas 31, respectively — the second of which came as his first headlining bout under the UFC banner.

UFC 267 takes place on October 30. from the Etihad Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE — with a light heavyweight title fight between Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira slated to headline. In the co-main event, the former undisputed bantamweight champion, Petr Yan meets with the #3 ranked contender, Cory Sandhagen in an interim title bout.

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Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.