Dan Ige earns ‘all respect’ in loss to Diego Lopes at UFC 303

LAS VEGAS — Diego Lopes picked up a meaningful win against a ranked opponent at UFC 303 on Saturday — it just didn’t come against Brian Ortega.

Lopes (25-6) extended his winning streak to four by defeating Dan Ige by unanimous decision in a bout that took place at a catchweight of 165 pounds due to incredible circumstances.

Lopes was supposed to fight Ortega at the 145-pound featherweight limit, but that changed to 155 pounds on Friday after Ortega had trouble making weight. Ortega was then scratched from the bout altogether on Saturday, and Ige took his place in what is believed to be the shortest-notice fight in modern UFC history.

Lopes nearly submitted Ige with a D’Arce in the opening round and threatened to choke him from the back in the second, but Ige persevered and rallied and even had Lopes in trouble in the third. With about two minutes left, Lopes dove for a single leg-takedown that might have saved him from further danger. All three judges scored the bout 29-28 for Lopes.

“All respect to Dan Ige,” Lopes said. “Not many guys take a fight on three hours’ notice. Whomever, wherever, however. I was going to fight at 145 pounds. At 4 in the morning [day of weigh-in] it was 155 pounds. Today, I found out the fight was changing again. It doesn’t matter. I will fight anybody.”

Ige, 32, lives and trains in Las Vegas and accepted the fight on the afternoon of UFC 303. He weighed in at 164.5 pounds, while Lopes re-weighed in at 161 pounds after hitting the lightweight mark the day before.

“I was literally getting a massage when I got the call, ‘Do you want to fight tonight?'” Ige said. “To show up on four hours’ notice on one of the biggest cards of the year, I couldn’t be happier with my performance.”

Neither Lopes nor Ige was originally supposed to fight at UFC 303. Lopes accepted the Ortega bout on two weeks’ notice after an injury to Conor McGregor threw the card into disarray. Lopes has looked the part of a featherweight title contender as of late, with three consecutive first-round finishes. He showed off his killer instinct again on Saturday with the D’Arce attempt, but the veteran Ige refused to tap and survived to the end of the first round.

In the third, Ige brought the crowd to life with several hard left hooks to Lopes’ body and head. Lopes appeared winded and dropped to his knees and grabbed for Ige’s lead leg. He didn’t get the takedown right away but chain wrestled his way into a crucial takedown. Ige did manage to get back up, but the takedown sapped precious time off the clock and energy from Ige.

Ige drops to 3-2 in his past five. He was scheduled to fight July 20 prior to taking Saturday’s bout. He expressed interest in fighting at the UFC’s planned show at the Las Vegas Sphere in September.

First appeared on www.espn.com

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