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Dan Ige rewarded for fighting on hours’ notice at UFC 303

Dan Ige was rewarded handsomely for stepping up on super short notice to save the UFC 303 co-main event.

Ige (18-8 MMA, 10-7 UFC), who was at home getting a massage when the card at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas began, ended up fighting before the main event, creating arguably the wildest short-notice replacement story in UFC history.

Diego Lopes was scheduled to fight Brian Ortega, but he fell ill on fight day. Ige, who lives in Las Vegas and was already in fight camp, accepted the fight when his manager contacted him. Initially, Ige thought his manager was saying he was getting an opponent switch for July 20, when he was scheduled to fight Chepe Mariscal.

As it turned out, Ige would frantically get his things together, head to the arena immediately, and get ready for a fight that night.

The event had already seen more than its share of late changes, including the main event, Conor McGregor’s big return to face Michael Chandler. The headliner ended up being a light heavyweight title rematch between Alex Pereira and Jiri Prochazka.

The co-main event was originally set to be Jamahal Hill vs. Khalil Rountree, but after a number of injuries and shakeups, Ortega vs. Lopes was the fight on the docket on the morning of UFC 303. However, even that matchup didn’t last, and Ige filled in at the drop of a hat.

Although Ige lost a decision to Lopes (25-6 MMA, 4-1 UFC), the promotion compensated him well for stepping up.

“I got all my money, show and my win, and I got more,” Ige told MMA Junkie Radio. “I got a new deal out of it. I got paid well. I probably got double or triple what I normally get, so it was – the number hit the bank account today, and it looks nice.

“I got to make those payouts, though. The payouts are bigger now, but I’m blessed, man. I’m grateful, I’m happy. You’re always going to want more money in a way, so I try not to get too greedy in my heart. But I do believe I was compensated fairly.”

Ige knew the last-minute situation to fill in was delicate, but also believed he deserved to be paid appropriately. While he believes he could have asked for more money, he wouldn’t lose the opportunity to step up for a same-day fight on International Fight Week.

“I wasn’t going to sit there and negotiate myself out of a deal,” Ige said. “I wasn’t going to be like, ‘Give me $2 million,’ and they’d be like, ‘OK, go screw yourself.’ They could easily just shut down the whole thing. This was an opportunity for me to become a legend and do something above and beyond, something that’s never been done in this era of the sport.”

Aside from financial compensation, UFC CEO Dana White granted Ige’s request to compete at Noche UFC at Sphere in Las Vegas. Now, he has to wait to see who he will share the cage with at the one-off event at the unique venue.

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