Dan Ige will look to reaffirm his position in the featherweight top 10 when he meets surging prospect Gavin Tucker later tonight (Sat., Mar. 13, 2021) at UFC Vegas 21 live on ESPN+ from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ige, who is coming of a unanimous decision loss to Calvin Katter back in July 2020, was originally expected to meet featherweight contender Ryan Hall this weekend in Vegas. However, Hall was forced out of the fight and replaced by Tucker. It was a matchup that Ige really wanted as few fighters on the UFC roster were willing to fight Hall.
“It was a little bit unfortunate because I was the guy, I wanted to be the guy to step up, fight him and shut his game down,” Ige told MMA Fighting. “Unfortunately, he got injured and he sent me a message when it happened and it was just an unfortunate event. That’s the sport we’re in. We can’t control everything in our lives and our training.
“My mind was set on competing because I’m gonna become a father [very soon] so it really doesn’t matter who shows up on Saturday. I’m gonna fight somebody and it happens to be Gavin Tucker at this moment and that’s what I’m gonna prepare for.”
Ige will now be given the task of stopping Tucker and his three-fight win streak. Tucker is a completely different fighter than Hall, but Ige isn’t changing much leading up to UFC Vegas 21. The hard-hitting featherweight is going to bring the same tools to the cage and do whatever it takes to get back into the 145-pound win column.
“It doesn’t change anything, to be honest,” Ige said. “Gavin Tucker is a solid fighter and it’s gonna bring the best out of me. It’s a fun, intriguing matchup because he’s gonna engage while Ryan Hall is more of a puzzle. I was excited to go out and figure out the Rubik’s Cube but we’ve got a different puzzle on Saturday with Gavin Tucker and I’m excited to solve this one as well.”
In fact, this will be the first time in a long time that Ige is fighting someone similar in size and stature. Ige’s last two Octagon appearances have come against lengthy featherweights Calvin Kattar and Edson Barboza. Tucker is a smaller fighter who will give Ige better spacing inside of the Octagon.
“Stylistically, it’s a great matchup and a fun matchup,” Ige said. “When you look at Gavin and look at myself, we’re pretty similar—especially in our attributes, our strengths. He’s almost a mirror of myself: he’s a southpaw, pressure fighter, black belt in jiu-jitsu, great striking, great boxing, great kicks. It’s gonna be fun.
“For once, I get to fight somebody with my stature. I feel like every time I fight someone they’re like 6’5” and I finally get to someone that’s actually a little bit shorter than me and I have a reach advantage so that’s gonna be awesome.
“I’m a pace setter and I have a guy that’s ready to match my pace, that’s willing to go blow for blow, takedown for takedown, strike for strike. It’s gonna be a fun fight for the fans and I look forward to competing with Gavin.”
Ige remains as confident as ever heading into this weekend’s contest with Tucker. “50K” is not only hoping to defeat Tucker and claim his first win in nearly one year but he’s also looking to lock down a post-fight bonus. With a child on the way it would be the perfect way for Ige to start 2021.
“I’m definitely gonna go out there and put it all on the line,” Ige stated. “I talked to my wife right before I got into quarantine and I told her I’m coming home with both paychecks, and a potential $50,000. That’s the goal.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 21 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.