LAS VEGAS – In a sport where beastliness and intimidation typically reign supreme, Chase Hooper is excited to fight a fellow exception to the status quo.
Hooper (12-3-1 MMA, 4-3 UFC), who has leaned into a persona that includes a love for M&Ms and social media memes, meets Jordan Leavitt (11-2 MMA, 4-2 UFC), a fighter with a quirky personality and passion for celebratory twerking, at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 232 at the UFC Apex.
“I think he’s a nice guy. So am I,” Hooper told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a pre-fight news conference Wednesday. “We’re two of the least intimidating guys on the roster – and that’s just not having an ego about it. I know neither of us look tough, but we’re both really tough dudes. I think that helps me on that side. Like, I know he doesn’t look as good as he is, just like I don’t. I don’t look like I’m going to be as tough of a fight as I am. But I know to respect him going in there.”
Admittedly, Hooper has never tried to take himself too seriously, despite his dedication as a professional. He identifies with Leavitt in that way and has been excited to promote the fight against an unusually relatable opponent on social media ahead of the bout.
“This is one of the few fights where I haven’t been scared or anxious, nervous, whatever,” Hooper said. “I’m just excited. I’m excited to go in there and test myself against a guy with a similar skill set. … With my social media stuff, I’ve been trying to pump it up a little bit. It’s a fun fight. We’re both a couple of dudes who are on the weirder side of things. We’re not taking this too seriously. Obviously, I’m a professional but I fight in my underwear for a living, so I’m not trying to be a tough guy. I’m trying to have fun with it and hopefully give the fight the attention that it deserves. I think obviously the position they put us on the card shows us it’s a good fight. The UFC knows it.”
Hooper, 24, is a non-pick ’em favorite for only the second time in his promotional tenure. Having been designated a coin-flip or underdog plenty of times, Hooper doesn’t read too much into the odds now that the bookmakers back him.
“I’m not sure what the oddsmakers are looking at when they have me as a -245 favorite,” Hooper said. “I guess part of it is me having to be the one to go in there and do that. I don’t get the confidence of somebody from the outside like, ‘Oh, you’ve got this. I see it more as a 50-50 fight, or a 55-45. I think I’m the 55 on that.
“I see it as an even matchup, especially from the outside perspective. Again, I don’t know what they’re looking at. Yeah, I was surprised to see it. But we can’t bet on the fights. It doesn’t make any sense for me to care about the odds too much.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 232.