JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dan Ige ran the gauntlet against former lightweight striker Edson Barboza and proved the doubters wrong at UFC on ESPN 8.
In-form Ige (14-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) took on Barboza (20-9 MMA, 14-9 UFC), who had dropped down to make his 145-pound debut, and stood with the renowned striker for much of the matchup as he battled his way to a split-decision victory.
After the fight, Ige told reporters, including MMA Junkie, that the victory was a perfect showcase of his own fighting credentials in a crowded featherweight division.
“That’s six wins in a row in the featherweight division – not an easy thing to do,” he said. “I went out there and I just fought one of the best guys in the world and I stood with him for the majority of the fight. Edson’s one of the best strikers, if not the best striker in the UFC alone, so I showed that I can go in there and strike with the best guys.”
Ige admitted that the prospect of facing Barboza’s whose striking arsenal has seen him compile a highlight reel of finishes during his career in the UFC lightweight division. But despite the initial nerves, Ige said by the time he arrived at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, he was clear-minded and ready to go.
“It’s a surreal feeling. It’s hard to explain, but to go out there and share the octagon (with Barboza) – I woke up this morning and when you wake up in the morning and you have to fight Edson Barboza, that’s scary!” he said. “But I gathered my wits and manned up to the plate and here I am on the winning side, so I’m super happy.
“I used to not get nerves before my fights, but I used to not be a killer like I am now. I woke up this morning and it’s kinda been like this the last few fights, just like an eerie nerves, anxiety. But by the time I’m in that bus and headed to the arena, it’s my time. There’s no nerves, I’m just here, I’m excited. As soon as I get off the bus I’ve burned the boats, and that’s it. That’s my mentality and that’s how I come out, every fight.
“I thought I did all the right things. It was a subtle pressure. I tried to be a hybrid of Khabib and Gaethje and all these guys, and Felder. Edson’s so good, man. He’s one of the best guys in the world, and that’s what it’s all about. I want to come in here and test myself against the best guys and I got to do that tonight. It’s such an honor to be in there and to get a W over Edson is huge, so I’m so happy.”
After extending his win streak to six, Ige said the time was right for him to step into the cage with a top featherweight contender, and he had a name ready when asked during the post-fight press conference.
“I said it last fight, I want to fight ‘The Korean Zombie,’” he stated. “The guy says he doesn’t know who I am – I hope he does now. Hey dude, I just beat Edson Barboza! No disrespect against ‘Zombie,’ I just think that’s an exciting fight and I don’t think you guys will disagree.”