Two years before Dan Ige landed his first fight in the UFC, he was already thinking about his longterm goals in the sport.
At that point in time, he was an up and coming featherweight prospect from Hawaii, quietly building a strong resume on the regional fight scene before earning his contract by way of Dana White’s Contender Series.
At UFC 247, Ige will look to build on his recent three-fight win streak while taking on his first ranked opponent in Mirsad Bektic. A victory would hopefully earn him a spot among the top 15 fighters in the world at 145 pounds, but more importantly, it would bring Ige one step closer to seeing his dreams come true.
“I wrote down, I have a little journal I write goals in,” Ige explained when speaking to MMA Fighting. “Back in 2016, I gave myself a deadline that I’d be the champ by Dec. 2021 and who knows it may come sooner than that.
“This year, I want to fight three times and I want to improve my win streak to seven in a row.”
Beating Bektic would be a great first step towards that goal considering it wasn’t that long ago he was considered one of the best prospects in the entire featherweight division.
Ige loved this matchup when it was offered to him not only because Bektic carries a ranking next to his name but also because this is the kind of crowd-pleasing fight that earned him a spot on the pay-per-view main card at UFC 247.
“I feel like a lot of guys in the rankings, they don’t want to fight unranked guys but I feel like things fell perfectly in place,” Ige said. “With Mirsad’s career and how it’s going, he’s kind of been up and down. I’m not saying he’s overlooking me but maybe he’s thinking here’s a guy, he’s unranked, let’s get a win and get the momentum going again but unfortunately, I’m the wrong guy to do that against.
“I was watching him for a while, even before I was in the UFC. He’s been on that radar. He could be a true contender or a title challenger or even the champion. He definitely has the abilities to do so but I feel this is also my time. I’m fighting him at a great time.”
If Ige is able to get past Bektic this weekend, he’s hoping to stay busy for the rest of 2020 with hopes of eventually catching the attention of featherweight king Alexander Volkanovski.
He’s nowhere near calling for a title shot right now but Ige is definitely excited about the possibility, especially now that he wouldn’t have to fight a friend to become champion.
“I feel like this sport is all about timing,” Ige explained. “Everyone’s good but it’s showing up and winning on the night of competition. Anyone can be a champ at the right time and I feel like my time is now. The path is there. It’s all laid out for me. I have to go out there and beat Mirsad but we’ve got a new champ in the division in Volkanovski.
“When Max [Holloway] was champ, Max is a friend of mine and I never had the desire to go and fight Max. I mean it would be different if I was going for the title and he was still champ. But now Volkanovski is the champ. I just have a fire that can’t be extinguished. I’m definitely on the right path.”