Dan Ige wasn’t exactly feeling his best following his UFC Milwaukee win on Saturday night against Jordan Griffin. One topic did get him animated, however: the UFC going to his home state of Hawaii.
Milwaukee, WI — We all have those days. Days you don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. Going to work? You’d rather drink a Brussels sprout milkshake. Most of us, mind you, have the option of rolling over and going back to bed, maybe calling in sick to work. Not an option if you’re a fighter, however. Dan Ige had one of those days Saturday. Only problem is, he was scheduled to fight Jordan Griffin at UFC Milwaukee.
The featherweight scrap opened the UFC on FOX 31 televised card. Ige had no choice but to show up for work, and ultimately, he got the job done, winning a unanimous decision.
“It is what it is. I’m happy inside,” he told media members including Cageside Press following the fight at the Fiserv Forum. “It’s just, that fight took a lot of energy out of me, I had to dig deep. I could have easily given up in there the second round, I knew the first round went my way, the second round didn’t go may way, and I had to dig deep.”
He didn’t give up, despite the fact that “I didn’t have that physical energy.” Instead, what you saw in the octagon Saturday from Ige “was all mental there in the third round. I dug deep, and I got the job done.”
There wasn’t anything specifically wrong with him that Dan Ige could pinpoint, mind you. “I just kind of woke up, it’s just one of those days. Sometimes you wake up sick, but you still gotta go to work, it doesn’t matter. I went out there, who cares how I feel that morning, the show still goes on.”
It did indeed. Perhaps Ige’s physical ailment made his win even more impressive. But as he put it, “it’s just one of those things.” Not one to make excuses, he’s happy enough with the win even in a close decision. A win that, by the end, he was pretty sure he was going to get. “Third round was close, honestly, it could have gone either way. When they said unanimous, I kind of knew I had it.”
Well, except for the fact that he was in Griffin’s home town. Still, he hadn’t come into UFC Milwaukee (officially UFC on FOX 31, the final card of the FOX network era) expecting an easy fight. “I never come in here expecting I’m going to get a first round finish and walk out like I did my last fight,” he said.
“It’s satisfying in a way, because you can’t buy that kind of experience. That’s fifteen minutes on the biggest platform in the world, in the UFC cage,” Ige continued. Cage time in a live fight is super valuable, after all. “I can’t get that experience in the gym, I can’t pay for private lessons and get that kind of experience. That experience comes from fighting. So I just got fifteen extra minutes in that cage to add to my resume.”
It was once again, however, on the road. “I like fighting in guy’s home towns,” said Ige, but admitted that “I always wanted to fight in my home city, but it’s hard, it’s 5000 miles away in Hawaii. So hopefully the UFC goes there some day.”
So is he pushing for the UFC to finally make the trip over to the islands? “Of course, I’m a big advocater of UFC Hawaii. I really hope so. We’ve got a Hawaiian champion [Max Holloway], a dominant Hawaiian champion, and that guy’s out there killing it. So I hope the UFC goes to Hawaii, and if they do, there’s a lot of hungry Hawaiians out there that are ready to scrap.”
Of course, the UFC’s main competitor, Bellator MMA, touched down in Hawaii this weekend. It put on back-to-back shows that by all accounts were a huge success, capping the night with Hawaiian women’s flyweight champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane defending her title against former UFC strawweight title challenger Valerie Letourneau. Ige feels the competition’s presence in his home state will help the cause.
“For sure. It helps everyone.” After all, they’re testing the waters, and hopefully his own promotion can follow along, and “the UFC can put on a bigger show.”
There’s no real reason not to, in Ige’s opinion. “We have everything. The biggest company in the world. Sold for 4.2 billion dollars, and it’s growing every single day,” he pointed out of the UFC’s place in the MMA market. “Just signed a huge deal with ESPN. We have everything we need. All we gotta do is get our butts over there.”
Watch Dan Ige’s full UFC Milwaukee post-fight press scrum above!