Hooper seems to be mature beyond his years. He’s aware of the attention he’s been receiving and knows none of it matters if he doesn’t perform in the Octagon.

In today’s UFC, it’s common for fighters to call out top opposition in search of a way to climb to the belt as fast as possible or for the big money fights. But Hooper wants to take a different approach.

“It’s crazy to me how fast everything has taken off,” Hooper said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity but I feel like I need to taper myself a little. I don’t want to jump right into the Top 15. I want to take my time and work up the division because I feel like I have so much time, and by the time I start maturing physically and developing my skillset, with my age, I think I can be so much better.”

It’s a well-calculated game plan. If Hooper continues to improve in training and gain experience in the Octagon now, when his body develops later in his career he will be at a peak not many reach at such a young age.

And thus, we have the matchup with Caceres, which offers a look that Hooper has yet to see in an opponent.