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Diego Lopes vs. Dan Ige Recap: The Unforgettable Last-Minute Fight at UFC 303

UFC 303 Recap

A sudden change at UFC 303 made Brian Ortega withdraw due to illness, leading to Dan Ige stepping in to fight Diego Lopes.

Read the full story of this unexpected fight night and how Ige quickly answered the call.

Key Takeaways
  • Brian Ortega couldn’t fight at UFC 303 because he was sick with a high fever.
  • Ige agreed to fight on very short notice, making history with the quickest fight acceptance ever.
  • Ige and Lopes fought at a catchweight of 165 pounds. Ige lost but gained massive respect for his courage.

The Unexpected Change at UFC 303

A very late change happened for the UFC 303 co-main event. Brian Ortega couldn’t fight on Saturday night because he struggled to cut weight and had a fever of 103 degrees.

His fight with Diego Lopes was moved from featherweight to lightweight, but then Ortega was completely ruled out.

Dan Ige then replaced Ortega to fight Lopes. The new fight, announced just before the UFC 303 main card, was set at a catchweight of 165 pounds.

UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell got a text from Ortega’s team at 3:41 p.m. PT on Saturday saying he was out. The preliminaries had already started, and with less than four hours before the main card, the co-main event was in jeopardy.

Within minutes, Campbell was on the phone with Ali Abdelaziz, Ige’s manager. Both tried to reach Ige, who was asleep during his massage.

Ali started calling me, so I knew something important was going on,” Savannah Ige, Dan’s wife, said. “I didn’t know what Ali wanted, but I was getting SOS alerts on my phone.

Ige called back and found out Ortega was out. UFC wanted him to fight Lopes that night. Ige agreed, knowing he never says no to a fight.

“When?” Ige asked.

“Tonight,” Ali said. “I was like, ‘What?'”

Dan Ige’s Quick Decision

Surprisingly, Ige agreed to fight Lopes on the shortest notice ever in UFC history, as he wasn’t even scheduled to fight at UFC 303.

When Ige heard the co-main event was in trouble, he sent a message to UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell at 4:18 p.m., less than three hours before the main card started.

Hey Hunter, I’ve been in camp for 3 months, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, I can fight this guy tonight and beat him. This is what legends are made of. I’m in. I’m ready. I’m in great shape. Please don’t take this opportunity away from me.”

Ige hinted about the fight on Twitter, writing, “So you wanna be a BMF?”

Ige’s Last-Minute Preparations

Ige wondered if it was even possible. UFC events are licensed and managed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Typically, fighters must submit medicals and weigh-ins the day before.

However, Campbell knew a rare rule that allowed the commission’s chairman to waive certain requirements.

Ige was already training for a fight in July, had his medicals done from a February fight, and was the same weight as Lopes — NSAC chairman Dallas Haun approved.

In fact, Ige got paid more for stepping in at the last minute. He called his coach, Eric Nicksick, who was at UFC 303 to corner another fighter. Ige asked him to grab his cup from the gym.

With prelims underway, Ige drove to T-Mobile Arena, met Campbell, and weighed in. His coach, Nicksick, called former UFC middleweight champion Sean Strickland to join Ige’s corner. Strickland drove straight to the arena.

Diego Lopes vs. Dan Ige Fight Night

Savannah’s brother came over to watch the fights as planned. He asked, “Where’s Dan?

He had no idea what was happening,” Savannah said. “I told him and he was like, ‘What?! Can they even do that?‘”

After weighing in, Ige turned off his phone and took a deep breath. He fought two hours later.

The fight was exciting. Lopes nearly forced Ige to submit early and easily won the first two rounds. Ige fought back in the third, and Lopes tried to take him down.

All the respect to Dan Ige,” Lopes said after the fight. “Not many guys take a fight with three-hour notice.

Ige gained more respect and exposure than ever before in his UFC career.

I was happy with what I did,” Ige said. “And just the ovation from the crowd and [UFC president] Dana White — like, I’ve never had that real respect from Dana. Hunter called me and said, ‘I love you, dude.’

Dan Ige’s Remarkable UFC 303 Performance

Dan Ige’s decision to step in and fight Diego Lopes at UFC 303 was a historic moment. Despite the last-minute call and no preparation, Ige showed incredible courage and determination.

He accepted the challenge just hours before the fight, weighed in, and faced one of the fastest-rising stars in the UFC.

Although Ige lost by a unanimous decision, his quick decision, bravery, and performance under pressure earned him respect and admiration from fans and the UFC community.

His story is a testament to the spirit of a true fighter, willing to step up and compete under any circumstances.