Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight talents Mirsad Bektic and Dan Ige will go to war this Saturday (Feb. 8, 2020) at UFC 247 from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Buckle your seat belts, ladies and gentleman, because this is going to be a “Fight of the Night” candidate.
It feels unfair to say that Bektic — a highly-ranked Featherweight with some quality wins on his resume — has yet to meet expectations, but that’s really only because the expectations on him were extremely high. At just 28 years of age, it’s still far too early to write off Bektic, who still has all the tools to make a run. Meanwhile, Ige’s loss to Julio Arce proved perhaps the best thing for him. Since that defeat, Ige has ripped off four violent wins, showcasing a marked improvement in his kickboxing while retaining his previous viciousness on the mat.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Ricardo Lamas (UFC 225), Chas Skelly (UFC on FOX 11), Godofredo Pepey (UFC on FOX 27)
Key Losses: Josh Emmett (UFC Fight Night 155), Darren Elkins (UFC 209)
Keys to Victory: Bektic remains a frightening talent. An excellent athlete and wrestler with absolutely destructive ground striking, Bektic is still in the process of refining his skill set under the watchful eye of Firas Zahabi over at Tristar.
Opposite Ige, Bektic should largely get the fight he wants. Both men like to trade power punches and wrestle, and they seem to have willing dance partners in front of each other.
Though both men are more than capable on the mat, Bektic seems to have the wrestling edge. He’s yet to fail to place an opponent on the mat when he’s tried, and a wrestling-focused strategy will help take advantage of his physical strength as well. As mentioned, Ige is willing to brawl, so Bektic should bait him before dropping down and snatching up the hips.
Top control specialists rarely look good from their back, so there’s a real chance Bektic can dominate simply by winning the early wrestling battle.
Key Wins: Kevin Aguilar (UFC Fight Night 154), Danny Henry (UFC Fight Night 147), Mike Santiago (UFC 225)
Key Losses: Julio Arce (UFC 220)
Keys to Victory: One of the many impressive pick ups from “Contender Series,” Ige has quickly proven himself an excellent fighter to keep an eye on. As mentioned above, Ige prefers to take down his opponents and batter them from top position, but the Southpaw has proven an effective striker as well.
Between those two avenues to victory, striking seems more realistic. Bektic has yet to really struggle in wrestling exchanges, and he’s faced some damn good wrestlers. That’s not to say Ige should avoid shooting, but it should not be his primary strategy.
Bektic’s main weakness in past fights has been an inability to maintain the same pace for the full 15 minutes. Ige, meanwhile, is coming off an impressive victory in which he was forced to dig deep and fight hard to take the third round — a test he passed with flying colors.
As such, Ige’s objective is to push a pace and make this a bloody brawl. The Southpaw has a ripping body kick and should use it frequently. Whether he or Bektic initiates the first wrestling exchanges, Ige should be trying to force a constant scramble and exhaust his foe’s gas tank.
It’s a great fight between some very talented Featherweights.
Though Bektic is the man being forced to defend his position against an unranked challenger, there is opportunity here alongside risk. Ige is on a very impressive streak right now, so ending that rise would definitely go a long way in reminding the fight world of Bektic’s own potential.
As for Ige, it’s a hard-earned opportunity to jump into the rankings and announce himself as a contender. Featherweight is a shark tank, where there are many skilled up-and-comers looking to break away from the pack. Ige is at that point, where the 28-year-old Hawaiian can either join the title mix or be forced back into the hunt along many others.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 247 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
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At UFC 247, Mirsad Bektic and Dan Ige will go to war. Which man will remain standing when the dust settles?