As part of his walk to his part-time job, Dan Hooker eyes Auckland’s Vector Arena almost every night. While he is working, the glowing green neon illuminates the night sky. So many memorable events have taken place at the venue since it was opened in April 2007. Over the course of seven years, world-class performers have graced the stage and fans have filed in by the thousands to witness something spectacular that they have waited months, and sometimes even years, to see.

Hooker (R) (Joshua Stebbings/Joshua Stebbings Photography)

Hooker (R) (Joshua Stebbings/Joshua Stebbings Photography)

It’s a place where dreams come true. And Hooker’s dream? That’s to be able to represent his home city of Auckland on the world’s biggest mixed martial arts stage.

“Having [an UFC event] in my home city was a bit of a shock at first,” Hooker admitted to The MMA Corner. “It’s an absolute dream, and I’m gonna do whatever I can to get on that card. If they’re gonna pick anyone [from New Zealand], it’d better be me [laughs]. It’d mean everything to me. I’m standing here at work, about 500 meters away from Vector Arena. I really wanna get on that card. There is so much support for the UFC in New Zealand, and without that support, this show wouldn’t have happened. And I wanna be part of it.”

Hooker’s relationship with mixed martial arts truly was love at first sight. After spending his younger years competing in Rugby League, the allure of what can happen in a mixed martial arts bout was what led him to turn in his football boots for a pair of gloves.

“It was six years ago now—a friend fought, and I went and and watched him fight,” Hooker explained. “And then he knocked the guy out in the first round in about 20 seconds. And I saw that and I just started training the Monday pretty much after that. I started always having ideas of competing.”

The lightweight division is the UFC’s deepest and highest populated weight division. Hooker doesn’t have his eye set on anybody in particular that he would like to step inside the Octagon against for a hometown debut. He just wants his chance to fight and to put on an entertaining show, much like he has in his 11 career wins.

“[I’ll fight] anyone,” Hooker exclaimed. “I wouldn’t complain; I wouldn’t argue. I would say yes.

“I’m not gonna leave anything to chance. If I get that shot, I’m gonna go in there and I’m gonna pull the trigger.”

“I had no idea the UFC would be putting on a show in New Zealand. So [attempting to make it into the UFC] wasn’t in the plan this year. I wanted to get a few more fights. Just having it at home—the first UFC card in my home town, in my own country, you know—I’m gonna jump on this chance with everything I can. If they gave me a shot at heavyweight, I’d take it [laughs]. If they wanted to make flyweight, I’d cut a leg off [laughs].”

Hooker (R) (Joshua Stebbings/Joshua Stebbings Photography)

Hooker (R) (Joshua Stebbings/Joshua Stebbings Photography)

With fellow countryman James Te Huna slated to headline the UFC’s debut in Auckland, Hooker would love nothing more than to appear on the same fight card as a fighter who proudly calls New Zealand their home.

“I’ve looked up to Jamie since he was coming up on CFC [Cage Fighting Championships] or coming up on local shows as well. I’ve always looked up to him,” Hooker admitted. “Being one of the first Kiwi guys to make it, he’s paved the road.”

Auckland’s Vector Arena is on Hooker’s mind every day. Every night, after a full day of training, it’s there. As he works his part-time job, the arena, just 500 meters away, calls out to him. It’s just waiting there for him to compete in what is set to be a historic event for Auckland.

The pride and passion that New Zealanders show in regard to their native competitors alone may not be able to send Hooker to the big stage, but that, combined with his natural talent when it comes time to don the gloves, is something that may just do it. And if he does get his chance, you can be sure that Hooker will create memories that thousands of Kiwis will be able to share for years to come.

Dan would like to thank Strikeforce Gym Auckland. Follow Hooker on Twitter: @danthehangman