The co-main event of UFC Vegas 86 takes place at featherweight between Dan Ige and Andre Fili. This matchup came to be after Ige’s original opponent, Lerone Murphy, was forced out but it’s still a tremendous matchup that’s a top contender for fight of the night.
Dan Ige is coming off a tough loss to Bryce Mitchell where he found a lot of success in the striking but fell victim to the grappling prowess of Thug Nasty. Dan ‘50K’ Ige always looks to put on a show and he should have a willing dance partner in Andre Fili.
Andre Fili has consistently been one of the most underrated fighters at 145 lbs. He’s 11-9 in the UFC, but his losses have come against some high-level guys like Max Holloway, Yair Rodriguez, Calvin Kattar, and Bryce Mitchell. He’s going to have to rely on that experience heavily in this one, as he’s taking on the dangerous Dan Ige on just a few week’s notice.
The oddsmakers are obviously aware of the challenge Fili poses as the odds are fairly close, though Ige is the favorite:
At 32 years old, Dan Ige is 17-7 as a pro and 9-6 since joining the UFC in 2018. Ige’s stand up is an impressive mix of boxing combinations and slick defense. He has great feints and a well timed jab from a conventional stance that pairs well with his smooth footwork to glide in and out of range. He uses all of this to set up blitzing entries to fire off a flurry of punches to the body and head. He especially loves the straight right hand to the body followed up by the left hook high on these entries but mixes up the combos well.
Ige’s defensively sound with a good high guard and fast feet to get in and out range. His head movement in the pocket and disciplined guard often keep him from getting overly reckless when he does get into a brawl and he often comes out of it having landed the better shots. His right hand is usually nice and tight to his chin while his left hand is often extended and/or throwing out the jab so he’s vulnerable to the right hand when he plants his feet and is unable to maneuver out of range.
In his last matchup against Bryce Mitchell, he fell victim to the lightning quick takedown entries that made it difficult for him to commit to any combination. He managed to find the mark by going to same-sided combinations while switching stances and even hurt Mitchell in the second round but the strong wrestling of Mitchell was enough to outlast Ige. He was taken down most often when Mitchell timed Ige’s striking; when Ige was able to read and react to the takedown entries, he defended well in each position and was able to stuff the majority.
His opponent will be 33-year-old Andre Fili. With a pro record of 23-10 and a UFC record of 11-9, Fili has even more experience than Ige. He’s 5’11 with a 74” reach, so he’s larger for the division, and he relies on that length to pump out well-timed jabs and crosses that land as his opponent gets close. He has quick feet to maneuver in and out of these ranges to avoid getting trapped in tight and being forced into a slugfest.
Some of his best strikes are his kicks. With a fluid switch-stance style, Fili can throw powerful kicks to all three levels from both conventional and southpaw. He controls range well with his footwork and is often in position to land these kicks with heavy impact while keeping his opponent out of position for the counter.
While Fili operates well at range with his offense, he can get a bit predictable. He doesn’t have too much diversity with his striking as outside of his kicks, he relies heavily on straight ones and twos. When you watch his fight with Nathaniel Wood, you can see how Wood was able to get around those long strikes and work his way in to land the more powerful shots.
Fili’s grappling is very good as well. He’s not known for submissions but he’s more than willing to take the fight to the ground. He doesn’t shoot for takedowns too often, but when he does, he usually throws out a quick jab before dipping down for the single or double leg. With Ige’s latest loss attributed strictly to being outgrappled, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Fili shoot more than normal.
Andre Fili is a very tough draw, especially as a short-notice replacement. Ige has his work cut out for him as Fili is incredibly experienced and doesn’t have a lot of weak areas. Fili will have a three-inch reach and four-inch height advantage, so Dan will need to be sharp with his blitzes to get inside where he can fire off his powerful combinations. Fili has a tendency to get caught with the counter right hand over his jab and I expect Ige to look for those opportunities as he finds his timing and range.
For Fili, he’s going to need to work hard to keep this fight at range. Ige keeps a good pace over all fifteen minutes, whereas Fili tends to get outstruck, so he’ll need to ensure that he’s staying active enough – either with strikes or grappling – to still have a chance to take at least two rounds. Fili has seven UFC fights with at least two takedowns and twelve where he’s secured at least one. If Fili is getting outstruck, he has that option to go to the takedown. Ige gave up five takedowns to Bryce Mitchell and nine to Movsar Evloev and, while these are elite grapplers, it is an area worth testing if you’re Fili.
However this one plays out, I’m expecting an amazing fight. Fili’s usually the longer fighter and his style exemplifies that while Ige, who is often the smaller fighter, has a style predicated around getting around that distance. I think Ige has the cleaner boxing and is more defensively sound. He has good head movement to avoid the rangy strikes of Fili and should be able to land the harder shots. That head movement could become a problem if Fili can time a kick or knee to land as he evades but the consistent high guard of Ige gives me confidence that he’ll be able to avoid any heavy damage. Ige’s had a full camp as well while Fili agreed to fill in less than three weeks ago so I like Ige on the moneyline in this one.
Prediction: Dan Ige to win (-170 at BetUS)