Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight talents Bryce Mitchell and Dan Ige will collide this weekend (Sat., Sept. 23, 2023) at UFC Vegas 79 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mitchell consistently exceeded expectations after coming up short on his season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 27, rebounding with six-straight victories to maintain a perfect professional record. Unfortunately, he ran into Ilia Topuria and was subsequently steamrolled by “El Matador” (watch it), so it’s now time to bounce back a second time. Ige probably wouldn’t be thrilled with me saying this, but the last couple years have established “50k” is a gatekeeper to the division’s elite. He’s situated just outside the Top 10, turning away up-and-comers who are unworthy of that status. Fortunately, knocking back two prospects has earned him another chance to fight up the ladder, so he could break free of those gatekeeper chains with an impressive performance.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Edson Barboza (UFC 272), Andre Fili (UFC Vegas 12), Charles Rosa (UFC 249), Matt Sayles (UFC on ESPN 7)
Key Losses: Ilia Topuria (UFC 282)
Keys to Victory: Mitchell is an impressively gifted athlete for an unassuming looking fighter. For example, his kickboxing may look a touch awkward, but he still managed to drop Edson Barboza and land a decent amount of strikes on Topuria! Then, there’s of course his A game, the endless series of takedowns and submission transitions that overwhelm opponents.
Historically, Ige’s takedown defense is pretty good ... but not great. Based on their history, Mitchell should be able to find his takedowns once he gets ahold of the Hawaiian knockout artist.
Really, the key is setting up his shots. On occasion, Mitchell is prone to diving forward, which is unlikely to work against a veteran as skilled as Ige. If he instead is able to stick Ige with a few long left hands, wait for his reaction, then time a shot, Mitchell is likely to find far more success in dragging this one to the floor.
Once he’s on top, it’s difficult to escape “Thug Nasty.”
Key Wins: Edson Barboza (UFC on ESPN 8), Mirsad Bektic (UFC 247), Nate Landwehr (UFC 289), Gavin Tucker (UFC Vegas 21), Damon Jackson (UFC Vegas 67)
Key Losses: Movsar Evloev (UFC Vegas 56), Josh Emmett (UFC 269), Chan Sung Jung (UFC Vegas 29), Calvin Kattar (UFC on ESPN 13), Julio Arce (UFC 220)
Keys to Victory: Ige is a well-rounded veteran with big power in his hands. The jiu-jitsu black belt has put opponents away both with single shot connections and by dominating on the floor, and he’s faced many of the division’s top contenders.
Obviously, stopping the takedown is the absolute biggest key here. In a kickboxing match, Ige’s superior footwork, combinations, and punching power would keep him firmly in control, but a takedown or two added into the mix can be a brutal equalizer.
Distance seems Ige’s best bet in avoiding the shot, since I don’t think he has the pure physicality that allowed Topuria to walk Mitchell down and really press him. Instead, Ige has stance-shifting combos and body work. If the Hawaiian is moving well on the outside and providing a difficult target, that already increases his odds of denying shots.
Then, he can look to take angles and fire safely. Taking his right hand to the chest would be a great move opposite the Southpaw, helping him to prevent the level change as well as set up further shots.
Bryce Mitchell claims he is the cash cow of the Featherweight division and that the UFC is sitting on gold pic.twitter.com/rhImJaTdcW— MMA Mania (@mmamania) September 20, 2023
It’s an intriguing fight between exciting ranked Featherweights.
Mitchell got beat up by Topuria and took an appropriate amount of time off. The loss hurts, certainly, but the Arkansas-native is still only 28 years of age! If he performs well here and rebounds opposite Ige, Mitchell will find himself back in the mix at 145-pounds and back in the cage with a Top 10-ranked foe next.
As for Ige, this is his opportunity to break back into the Top 10. His handful of losses to fighters ranked above him will make progressing challenging, but a quality three-fight win streak is difficult to ignore. Another victory moves him up the ladder, and it could even set up a rematch with someone like Calvin Kattar.
At UFC Vegas 79, Bryce Mitchell and Dan Ige will throw down in the co-main event. Which man earns the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 79 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 79: “Fiziev vs. Gamrot” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
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