Dan Ige and Edson Barboza trade strikes

Dan “50k” Ige enters the octagon on a three-fight skid and has lost four of his last five. However, all four of those losses have come against those atop the featherweight division. Overall, Ige is 15-6 with nine finishes and six decision wins. He has never been finished himself. Damon “Action” Jackson, 34 and 3 years older than Ige, enters on a four-fight winning streak. All four of those wins have come against unranked and considerably lower competition. Overall, Jackson is 22-4-1 with 19 finishes and 3 decision wins. He’s only ever lost via finish himself, three knockouts, and one submission.

Betting Odds

This line has remained near its pick’em open for most of the week but is slowly starting to leak out toward Ige.

  • Dan Ige: -125
  • Damon Jackson: +105

Fight Breakdown

Ige is a consummate professional who rarely “loses” a fight; but, rather, consistently provides entertaining and reliable performances where it often takes a complete fighter to go out and beat him. Represented by his record, never having been finished in the cage, Ige is tough as nails and has great cardio. He can absorb shots, push a nasty pace, and continue coming forward seemingly unphased by what or whoever is across the cage. Typically, Ige combines his complete skillset in the octagon and can turn to his well-rounded game at any point in the fight. He is often undersized, standing at only 5’7 and is at a disadvantage with a smaller reach. Yet, he has a stiff jab and solid leg kick, both of which he can throw in volume. He tends to fight behind his jab and leg kick early, working his way into range behind volume and head movement. Then, once he’s in the pocket, Ige’s hand speed, combinations, and body work are on full display. He has a nasty liver shot and works the body and head fluidly in his combinations. Unlikely taller fighters who prefer to be at range, Ige won’t exit the pocket after he lands his combinations. Instead, he keeps pressing forward. Because he worked hard to get into his range and because his chin was forged in the depths of hell, a toe-to-toe brawl is often the Hawaiian’s preference. Ige is also an accredited wrestler who can shoot takedowns or successfully grind opponents down from the clinch. Like many other undersized fighters, Ige is adept at throwing a powerful overhand right and following his momentum into a takedown or clinch. Once again, he keeps the pressure up and uses his cardio as a weapon. Ige’s biggest issue has simply been his competition. In his losses, he’s been slightly smaller, losing the battle at range, slightly less powerful, wearing more damage than he deals, or the worse wrestler, getting taken down himself. Against the upper echelon of the division, Ige is a slight step behind. But, against those on the cusp of the top 10, Ige is more than capable of finding a finish on the feet, grinding out a grueling win on the mat, or, most often, winning a war.

Following a 1st round knockout loss to Topuria in 2020, Jackson seemed to decide he liked being the hammer more than the nail. Jackson used to be a tricky submission fighter who struggled to get his own takedowns; and, instead, welcomed others to get him to the mat where he could scramble and find the neck or the limb. That strategy, while it proved successful for a while, requires his opponents to lead the dance and puts him in danger until he can secure a defensive submission- risky. Now, though, Jackson has lived up to his nickname “action.” Rather than baiting opponents, Jackson has 180’d into a fighter who brings the action from the opening second of the fight. He looks to swing big on the feet as he blitzes across the cage. His striking is wild but powerful, designed to create chaos or clip an opponent clean. If he doesn’t find the flash knockout, Jackson uses the chaos his striking creates to get ahold of his opponent and grind against them. Like Ige, Jackson’s gameplan revolves around pressure. He tries to force his opponent to make a mistake where he can quickly capitalize and find the finish. This constant pressure, striking and grinding against the cage, requires Jackson to have great cardio and a willingness to put himself in danger. “Action” has both in spades. But, that fan-friendly style where Jackson blitzes, overwhelms, and looks for the mistake to find the finish comes at a cost. Against technical strikers, Jackson gets hit a lot. His striking tends to be wide and he swings from his hips. So, fighters with a strong jab and fundamental straight punches can find success countering him as Jackson rushes forward. Similarly, Jackson can trust in his submission game too much and be controlled for long periods of the fight. Nevertheless, unless he is put out, which has only happened once in the UFC, Jackson is dangerous as long as he is conscious.

Prediction and Betting Guide

I can’t wait for this fight! Both men bring the pressure, action, and have styles that should mesh well together. I think Ige will try to keep Jackson away from him early, using his jab, leg kick, and footwork to keep Jackson at range. But, inevitably, these two should find themselves exchanging in the center and/or trading positions on the mat. In both scenarios, Jackson is not to be overlooked but I like Ige to find success. He’s the more experienced fighter who rarely makes the mistakes that Jackson needs to find success. Additionally, as the fight goes on, Jackson may start to press more and more, taking more risks which should only aid in Ige’s gameplan. It’s going to be fun, both men are dangerous, and both are unafraid of a scrap. But, I like Ige to demonstrate there are levels to this game. I would play him straight and also like a sprinkle on knockout.

Pick: Ige to win (-125 odds)

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