Dan Ige In, UFC 303 Co-Main Event Switches with Card Underway

Dan Ige, UFC
Dan Ige, UFC 289 official weigh-in Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

UFC 303 was not a card that arrived without its share of hiccups, including megastar Conor  McGregor being forced out due to a broken toe.

Few, however, would have predicted a change to the PPV show’s co-main event, with multiple fights already in the books.

However, with Brian Ortega reportedly falling ill, the UFC turned to Xtreme Couture’s Dan Ige as a replacement, despite the Hawaiian not having weighed in for the event, and not expected to be part of it.

With rumors flying backstage, MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani confirmed news that the promotion was trying to negotiate a 165lb catchweight for the fight. Ige, as a result, would weigh in on the night of the fight. Sources confirmed to Cageside Press that the bout had been agreed to in principal, with the athletic commission’s approval the last remaining hurdle.

That hurdle, evidently, was cleared, with the UFC 303 main card quickly approaching. The UFC 303 broadcast confirmed the news following the Cub Swanson-Andre Fili fight. Both fighters made weight for the new bout.

While the nature of Ortega’s illness has not been reported, he struggled with weight in advance of UFC 303, resulting in the fight with Lopes being shifted to lightweight just hours before Friday’s official weigh-in.

Dan Ige apparently teased the news with the card already underway, but a few hours before the situation became public knowledge. “50K” had been scheduled to face Chepe Mariscal (replacing Joanderson Brito) at a Fight Night event on July 20. Instead, he steps in as the shortest-notice, highest-profile replacement fighter in UFC history.