The always entertaining, Dan “50k” Ige, holding a professional record of 15-5, is set to fight an undefeated, elite featherweight prospect in Movsar Evloev (15-0).
Ige, being the extremely fan-friendly fighter he is, has gotten himself into war-type fights that have resulted in him losing 3 of his last 4 affairs. Meanwhile, Evloev has been on a smooth climb up the division, having looked better and better along the way. The divergence of recent octagon success accompanied by each being a worthy test of the other makes for a highly entertaining and technical fight come Saturday night.
Evloev is priced as a massive -375 favorite over Ige.
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Dan Ige is perhaps the biggest enigma currently in the UFC. Meaning, if you simply look at his record, he is 3-3 in his last 6, with 2 of his 3 wins coming via split decision. The lack of success warrants the conclusion he is either overrated relative to what many believe him to be – a top 10 caliber fighter – and/or lacks a particular skill needed to solidify himself as a ranked fighter in a deep featherweight division. Albeit the conclusion can be made, I will push back on both fronts, as Ige is actually an underrated athlete from a well-rounded lens accompanied by him having the high-end talent needed to compete and win, at the top 10 level.
The underrated aspect of Ige’s game is his wrestling, as he can outwrestle non-grapplers and he can put forth a defense against elite takedown artists. The issue, and why he is often overlooked for being a well-rounded fighter, is that Ige can be taken to the mat after several attempts; and often, the inability to combat most, if not all takedowns, has resulted in him losing close fights.
The main tactic and what Ige is known for are the granite rocks he calls fists. Parlay extremely heavy heads with crisp boxing, working the head and body equally, lends him to having an elite attribute of his game. And, this attribute rationalizes why so many fans love to watch Ige fight, as he is more than willing to stand toe-to-toe with his opponent to turn a UFC event into a boxing match.
While Ige loves to stand and brawl, Evloev has an affinity to fight the easiest path to victory. Oftentimes, the best tactic to create the largest disparity in fight ability is Evloev electing to wrestle his way to victory. Many fighters choose a heavy-grappling attack, but few use it as well as Evloev. This is because he has athletic movement with legitimate striking on the feet; and, although his striking may not result in an electrifying knockout, it does have enough success to cause his opponent to forget about the possibility of a takedown. Evloev chaining wrestling off of his striking is truly impressive. Accompanying this with the ability to lay heavy on top position nets him the ability to chain wrestle his way to a win.
The only question in Evloev’s game to date, beyond gradually progressing through the division – Ige will be his best test to date – is the somewhat surprising issue of cardio becoming a question as the fight progresses. Perhaps this issue, which surfaced in his last fight, originated from putting on an unrelenting pressure, both in terms of output striking and takedowns. But, if the issue becomes more common than an anomaly, Evloev could run into significant danger, particularly when fighting someone with as much power as Ige has.
In the most blunt and honest terms, Dan Ige should not be a +300 price against anyone outside the top 3 of the division. So, if you are a value-based bettor, putting a sprinkle on Ige to win is by no means a bad wager. However, the direction of the fight should go in Evloev’s favor until the off chance he gasses. I expect Evloev to wrestle early and often, and although Ige has the grappling defense, eventually the fight will hit the mat which Evloev has shown well in keeping it there. This expectation should be repeated for all rounds of the fight, and so long as Evloev does not gas and gets clipped by a heavy punch of Ige, I believe he will win.
Bet: Evloev by Dec