When Dan Ige headlines UFC Fight Night 172 on July 15 in a featherweight bout against Calvin Kattar, it will be the Haleiwa native’s first time headlining a UFC event.
For the 28-year-old Ige, while it will undoubtedly be the biggest fight of his MMA career, he hopes that won’t be the case for long.
“This is a big opportunity for me being in the main event, getting the main event attention and the spotlight,” Ige told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “But I can’t stray away from the goal which is to be a world champion but this is a step along the path and this is huge.”
At 14-2 with a six-fight winning streak in the UFC, Ige will certainly bring momentum with him to Abu Dhabi’s Fight Island. In a conversation with DeMello last week, ESPN’s Ariel Helwani believes a win over Kattar could put Ige two more victories away from title shot consideration.
At 21-4, Kattar will be a formidable challenge. It will also be a welcome one for Ige, who last fought on May 16 in a split decision victory over Edson Barboza in Jacksonville, Fla. As much as things haven’t gone to plan during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ige wants to focus on how he can control his own destiny as he steadily climbs the UFC ladder. For now, the next step is Kattar, another fight he took on short notice.
“When I fought Edson, I got the call on two and a half weeks’ notice. I trained for maybe eight days total of professional MMA training for that fight, but it’s the opportunity that got me this opportunity to be in the main event spotlight,” Ige says. “Again, it’s on a four-week notice, everyone wants this ideal timeframe but not every opportunity comes with an ideal timeframe. The ones that are willing to take the opportunity, take the risk, that’s why I’m here in this position because no one else was in the position to step up.
“I’m grateful and I’m a big believer in momentum. I have a lot of momentum riding with me and I’m just gonna ride it all the way until it dies.”
UFC Fight Night 172 will air on ESPN at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 15.