Dan Ige Details Putting Corner Together for Short-Notice UFC 303 Fight

July 4, 2024
Dan Ige’s preparation in the lead up to his short-notice UFC 303 clash against Diego Lopes was like something straight out of a movie script.

Ige was getting a massage at his home in Las Vegas — with his phone on “do not disturb” mode — when his wife told him multiple people were trying to reach him. When Ige checked his phone, he had 10 missed calls combined from his mother, who had also been contacted by people trying to reach him, UFC execs and MMA manager Ali Abdelaziz.

Abdelaziz, who is not even Ige’s manager, offered to set up a short-notice clash on that very day to save the UFC 303 co-main event, which was jeopardized by Brian Ortega pulling out due to a fever. Ige gave the nod, and after a few hours Abdelaziz confirmed that the fight was on.

Ige was already in fighting shape, as he was preparing for a clash against Jose Mariscal on July 20. However, “Dynamite” had to put together a team to corner him after accepting the fight on four hours’ notice. The first person Ige called was Xtreme Couture head coach Eric Nicksick, who was already supposed to be at the event to corner Roman Dolidze.

They then tried to contact striking coach James Gifford (aka Giff) without avail. Next in line was PFL featherweight Kai Kamaka III, who agreed to be picked up within half an hour without knowing the reason. The last person they called was one of Xtreme Couture’s most prominent names, Sean Strickland. Ige believed the former middleweight champ had the perfect persona to boost him up for the occasion.

“Eric’s already there right, because he’s gonna corner Roman Dolidze,” Ige told MMAjunkie.com. “And I told Eric, ‘Bro we’re fighting Diego.’ He said, ‘Cool.’ I’m like, ‘Tonight.’ He’s like, ’S—t, cool.’ Eric, he’s like, ‘Bro I’m coming to your house, I’ll meet Roman at the arena.’… So, Eric comes over, said, ‘Who do you want?’ So I tried calling Giff [James Gifford]. Giff doesn’t answer. I call him five times, not answering, sleeping. So I’m like, ‘All right, who’s next?’ Eric’s like, ‘Let’s get Kai [Kamaka III].’ He calls Kai. He’s like, ‘Kai, be at Silverado Ranch in Las Vegas Boulevard in 30 minutes, we’re gonna pick you up.’ And he’s like, ‘All right what do I need?’ [Nicksick’s] like, ‘Bring my gear.’ He’s like, ‘What’s going on?’ [Nicksick’s] like, ‘We’ll talk later,’ Boom. Hangs up. [Nicksick asked] ‘Who else do you want?’ And then they called [Sean] Strickland. I’m like, ‘Dude Strickland’s the perfect guy just for this moment.’ Strickland’s out riding his motorcycle somewhere, so they call Strickland, Strickland rolls in to the T-Mobile. He’s like, ‘Strickland be at T-Mobile one hour… Ige’s fighting.’ He’s like, ‘OK… What a badass.’ Strickland shows up, we all get there… This was a full-on movie.”

Lopes survived a third-round onslaught from Ige to rope in a unanimous decision victory. Both fighters subsequently called for a spot on the UFC 306 card in September, which Dana White has agreed to grant them.

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/Dan-Ige-Details-Putting-Corner-Together-for-ShortNotice-UFC-303-Fight-194231

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