Dan Ige Steps Up, Diego Lopes Wins Decision in Unexpected UFC 303 Co-Headliner

Diego Lopes UFC
Diego Lopes, UFC 303 ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Eddie Law/Cageside Press

Dan Ige’s unthinkable short-notice co-main event with Diego Lopes took everyone by surprise when it was announced with UFC 303 already underway.

Already, the co-headliner had been shifted from 145 to 155lbs, to accommodate Brian Ortega on weigh-in day. With Ortega falling ill, the fight fell apart on Saturday, the hours til the main card ticking away.

That’s when Xtreme Couture’s Ige stepped up on mere hours notice, proving to be as game as they come. And with the NSAC approving the bout- Ige was already licensed, and in camp- the fight with Diego Lopes was on.

Plenty of praised should be heaped on Lopes as well, for accepting both a new opponent, and not one but two changes in weight over barely 36 hours.

And despite the short-notice nature of the fight, Ige looked tight in the early going, keeping his guard high, showing stance switches, and playing a patient game with Lopes, as dangerous as they come on the ground and no slouch on the feet.

It was the final minute of round one where things got a bit scrappy, with the two firing punches in a phone booth, and Lopes landing a good uppercut. Moments later, they went to the ground, with Lopes locking in a guillotine and rolling with it, while Ige blocked a leg to prevent the Brazilian from improving the position and finishing the choke.

Round two saw Lopes threaten to take the back about two minutes in, ultimate dragging Ige down and getting a body triangle in place. Ige defended the choke, while Lopes controlled his left wrist. Ige looked to reverse, fighting the body lock and rolling to his knees, but Lopes adjusted. Ige fired right hands behind himself, tagging Lopes several times rather impressively, given the angle. He wasn’t, however, going to win the round by defending, and they headed to the third.

That third and final frame saw Ige connect with arguably his best strike of the fight about 90 seconds in, connecting with a solid right hand. Moments later, however, a Lopes leg kick seemed to hobble Ige, allowing Lopes to get in on a takedown. Ige fought that off, but Lopes would shoot again. Lopes appeared to be tiring, with just about 90 seconds left on the clock, the pair tied up in a clinch along the fence. Ige then got the upper hand, but got on top, a questionable decision with Dan almost certainly down in the fight, and time running low. In the end, a co-main event impressive for even holding together went the distance, with Diego Lopes

Official Result: Diego Lopes def. Dan Ige by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)