Watch out for the jump scares! Dan Ige compares “eerie” empty arena fight to a scary movie.
Heading into UFC on ESPN 8 in Jacksonville, FL on Saturday night, there’s an argument to be made the Hawaiian Dan Ige is no longer flying under the radar. A five fight win streak, and a number next to his name, are evidence thereof. So is the main card placement he’s landed, in a big event (the only one in town) on ESPN.
Speaking to Cageside Press at the event’s virtual media day, however, Ige suggested he isn’t feeling it.
“It feels the same. Maybe I’m getting more recognition but I don’t really pay attention to it. In my mind I feel like I don’t get the proper recognition,” he told us. “I still have something to prove. I still have to go out there, fight ferocious, ambitious. I can’t let my foot off the gas because I’m starting to get some fame or recognition. I have a goal and I’m trying to get that belt, and every single person that steps in front of me has to go down in order to get that belt.”
Five have gone down in his latest stretch, most recently Mirsad Bektić at UFC 247 back in February. Next up, Edson Barboza. The longtime lightweight is dropping to featherweight for this match-up.
“I’m here to fight the best guys in the world. That’s why I took this fight against Edson,” said Ige. “He’s one of the best in the world. And I have to beat guys like Edson to show that I am the best in the world. There’s a lot of guys. There’s a lot of sharks in this division, especially at 145. And I’m one of them. I’m coming for everyone. I’m coming for everyone’s name, and I’m gonna get that belt next year.”
Like everyone else competing across the three Florida events this week, Ige is preparing to fight in an empty arena. Crowd noise in combat sports can be a huge factor, one that will be wholly absent come Saturday night.
“From what I’ve heard, you could hear a pin drop in that arena,” observed Ige. “You hear everything— you hear your corners, you hear your opponent’s corners, you can hear your opponent breathing. You can hear every shot, every thud, every slam, every leg kick, every everything.”
Some might have reservations, “but I love that,” said Ige. “I think it’s a definitely an eerie feeling,” he added, but one “that I feed off, because I’m an eerie fighter. I’m just kind of excited to experience it.” The Hawaiian suggested his Contender Series appearance might have given him a taste — “but not really because there was a lot of people in there cheering for me. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to getting real intimate in there, just hearing everything and you know, looking for the kill. It’s like a like a scary movie.”