For many in the combat sports world, the name Dan Ige was familiar even before the featherweight was in the UFC. He works under Ali Abdelaziz for Dominance MMA and helps Abdelaziz manage top clients like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Kamaru Usman, and Henry Cejudo.
Although that has helped Ige establish a name in MMA, he wants to be known more than a manager. At UFC 247, he has that opportunity as he will take on Mirsad Bektic on the main card where a win should get him ranked.
“Honestly, he wasn’t a guy I was thinking of. But, when they offered me the fight I jumped on it right away,” Dan Ige said to BJPENN.com. “This is an opportunity I have been working on for a long time to fight a ranked guy, and finally, I’m getting my shot. He’s been ranked for years and I can’t wait to get it done.”
Ige, who is 28-years-old, is 4-1 in the UFC and riding a four-fight winning streak. In 2019 he had two fights by June but a nagging injury kept him sidelined for the rest of year.
Entering this fight, Ige knows he has gotten better and plans on showing his improvements on Saturday.
“I don’t ever focus on what my opponent is doing. My main focus is getting better every day and keep doing what I’m doing because I’m winning. I don’t feel like I need to change much because I have the power to hurt anybody in the division. I’m not even close to reaching my potential,” he explained. “I’m feeling better than ever and this is my toughest opponent to date. I am a big believer in hard work and that will show on February 8.”
In this fight against Bektic, Ige knows the Tristar product is a tough opponent. Yet he knows his power will force the Bosnian-American to become a wrestler.
“I think he will shoot at some point. It is a fight so you never know but I assume he will. As soon as someone hits him with anything he shoots in,” Ige said. “He’s going to feel my power and he will try to put me on my back. I’m not going to let this guy hold me on the ground and I’m going to be attacking and looking to finish him.”
For Ige, a win here would solidify himself into the top 15 and finally be known as a legit title contender, not a fighter and part-time manager. Although he likes the management side of MMA, his focus is on fighting and he views this fight as do-or-die for his career.
“This is super important. For me, every fight is important as you never know what is going to happen tomorrow,” Dan Ige explained. “Anything can happen in this sport so I treat every fight as the most important fight and it is do-or-die. I have to go out there and I have to win. I put that pressure on me every fight.”
In the end, Dan Ige is confident he will get his hand raised and knows this is the beginning of his rise up the rankings. He has set a goal of being the featherweight champion by 2021 and is confident he will achieve that.
“I wrote it down in my goals, to have a seven-fight winning streak by the end of this year,” he said. “I think that puts me knocking on the door of a title shot. But, I have a tough opponent in front of me and I never look past anyone. So, we gotta get this one done first. We will go from there.
“My goal is to be the champion, so whether it puts me at 13 or 15, I’m looking to get into the rankings. By the end of this year, I want to be top 10. I know by 2021 I will have the belt around my waist,” Ige concluded. “This is the start of the rise of Dan Ige and I can’t wait for everyone to see.”
Who do you think will win the UFC 247 between Dan Ige and Mirsad Bektic?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 2/7/2020.