Dan Ige has been on a roll for the last two years, and he continued his ascent up the featherweight ladder on Saturday with a win over Edson Barboza at UFC on ESPN 8, his sixth in a row within the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Ige (14-2) fought a tough battle with Barboza (20-9), who dropped down to featherweight from 155 pounds, and eked past the Brazilian via split decision. Ige struggled early with the former lightweight contender, as he was rocked by punches in the first and low kicks in the first two frames. However, the Hawaiian remained calm in the duel and eventually stormed back in the latter stages of the second and throughout the third.
When the dust settled and the smoked cleared after 15 minutes of hell, the outcome of the skirmish was in doubt. While one cageside judge saw it 29-28 for Barboza, that tally was offset by the other two who turned in the same score for Ige. Though “Dynamite” didn’t blow up Barboza like he undoubtedly would have preferred, he was pumped about his triumph over one of the toughest foes in the business.
“I proved that I’m definitely I’m a contender,” Ige said after his conquest. “I belong in there with the best guys. I’m one of the best guys. I showed that tonight against Edson.
“Edson is so good, man,” he continued. “People don’t realize just because he’s had a skid in his last five fights, but it doesn’t take anything away from him. He’s only lost to the best guys, the Khabibs, the Gaethjes, the Felders and now Ige, so that puts my name up there as one of the best guys in the world, so I’m happy to get the win tonight.”
While Ige didn’t specify a preference for a future opponent, he intimated that he is ready for bigger, better fighters. He’s won six consecutive battles and he claims he will not rest on his laurels moving forward.
“I’m not going to be complacent just because I beat a guy like Edson,” he said. “Now I’m going to have the real test in front of me. Guys are going to start paying attention to who I am and getting ready to fight me.”
Ige isn’t a household name just yet, but the Xtreme Couture product believes that he will eventually start being noticed by the casual MMA fans.
“People better start recognizing and realize that I’m in this for real,” he said. “I’m not just the manager boy that runs around running errands for everyone; I’m a fighter. I’m here and I’m one of the best in the world.”
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