Dan Ige discusses handling COVID-19 pandemic as a fighter and manager

Dan Ige
Image Credit: Dan Ige's Instagram (photographer not listed)

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the entire sports world, fighters, managers, and coaches alike in the combat sports world are having to adjust to these difficult times. For one UFC fighter, featherweight Dan Ige, having to adjust as a fighter is just part of it, as he’s also a manager for other UFC fighters.

Most recently, Ige defeated Mirsad Bektic at UFC 247 in February, which extended his winning streak to five in the featherweight division. That streak has also landed Ige in the top-15 rankings for his division, and in an exclusive interview with BJPenn.com, “Dynamite Dan” discussed how he feels lucky to have gotten his fight in before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down events.

“To be honest, I’m super grateful and thankful that I just fought, so I’m good for a little bit,” Ige said. “But my plan originally was to get at least three fights minimum, maybe even four fights this year. I was planning after that last fight in February, I kind of went back, reevaluated with my team, I was healthy, I felt good, so I was like we can jump back in there, not let this work go to waste and keep the ball rolling.

“It wouldn’t do me any bad to just stay active and keep building my name, my win streak, so I felt like it’d be a good idea to jump back in there in May, but obviously now with this pandemic, it does change thing,” Ige added. “I’m not in the gym as I would be training with my team, that being said, I am training differently. Training in my garage, training at the park, I’m keeping my mind focused and keeping my goals focused on the bigger picture. Hopefully this will all past soon and we can all get back to our regular lives, but that being said, I am still working no matter what, and I will find a way to obtain my goals.”

As he shifts focus away from himself since he’s recently fought, Ige also discussed what it’s like as a manager to other fighters during this COVID-19 pandemic, outlining that the conversations with each fighter are different.

“It’s kind of different for everyone, it’s different for people who are already in camp before this began and they are relying on fighting, that’s how they make a living most of these fighters,” he said.

UFC middleweight Marvin Vettori had been scheduled to compete at UFC London on March 21 until the event was cancelled due to the pandemic, but as Ige told BJPenn.com, the whole situation was unsettling for Vettori.

“Marvin Vettori was training for his fight in London and he flew to London, was ready to fight, this whole thing happened, they cancelled the show in London, they [UFC] said they were going to have the fight in the U.S. so he flew back to the U.S. because he still wanted to fight,” Ige said. “He has to compete, he has to take care of his family. Then the event in the U.S. got postponed…and Cage Warriors put on an event, and Marvin was willing to fly back to London to get on that, just to provide for his family.”

As for fighters’ reaction to the pandemic while they’re in training, Ige admits that when he’s in camp, he’s not staying current on what’s happening because he’s focused on the task at hand and providing for his family.

“Typically when I’m in camp, I’m not watching the news,” he said. “I have no idea what’s going on, I’m not watching other sports because I’m in camp, I’m working, I’m grinding and then I still have my other job that I have to put a lot of effort in. I have zero time to even know what’s going on in the world and maybe that’s a selfish thing because I received some criticism, I wrote something about fighters being a different breed, and you get so much backlash from people that just don’t understand. If you put them in your shoes they’d do anything to provide for their family even if it’s putting themselves in harm’s way. It’s a hard situation for fighters, we don’t get paid if we don’t fight. It’s not like other sports where we can just sit on the bench and wait it out.”

Having the duties of both a fighter and manager, Dan Ige faces more circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic than most, but he’s seeming to make the most out of the situation at my hand.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 4/1/2020.