UFC Fight Night: Dan Ige’s Momentum Pendulum
By James Lee
When Dan Ige ventures to the most consequential occasion of his career on Saturday, he will come across what can only be characterised as a momentum pendulum. A pendulum that if it goes an unfavourable way, is difficult to ever regain back.
Unfortunately for most, having Edson Barboza as the individual to decide which way your momentum shifts is not a preference. However, facing the best comes with the most significant consequences and a win for the Hawaiian is certain to will boost him to where he feels he should be.
Ige has had more success as of late and is currently on a five-fight win streak, but has yet to beat anybody of serious note. Although his wins over Danny Henry and Mirsad Bektic were impressive, he requires a substantial step-up before he can make himself appreciated and Barboza represents the first step of that.
In contrast, his Brazilian counterpart has stumbled upon a patch of inconsistency lately. However, his name still holds high prestige and a victory over him in any circumstance is well-received.
Fights with Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone and Gilbert Melendez prove he has fought some of the best in the history of the sport. His varied success in fighting those high-profile names similarly has categorised him as one of the best lightweights in the world.
Therefore, the opportunity for Ige is unexpected but one he must relish. It had been thought Barboza’s 145 lbs debut would have come against a higher-ranked opponent. Ige must not wonder, however, but take the biggest chance of his career.
The fact the featherweight talent pool is extraordinarily deep makes an opportunity like this a rarity. For years now, the featherweight division has been one of the sport’s most talented and although both competitors exemplify that success, there isn’t enough room at the top for the both of them. The talent pool is too deep to afford a spot for both Barboza and Ige, which makes the contest extremely significant.
Crucially, Ige is not alone in his championship ambitions as a flood of talent are similarly looking to cement their spot at 145 lbs. Arnold Allen, Sodiq Yusuff, Ryan Hall and Hakeem Dawodu all look like the future of the division, alongside the young flood already at the top of the division in Max Holloway, Brian Ortega, Yair Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov.
Consequently, there can be little room for error in Jacksonville for Dan Ige. The featherweight division is too unforgiving and a loss will see him struggle to ever regain the momentum he has fought so hard to acquire.