Dan ‘50k’ Ige ahead of UFC 289 fight: I am in a rebuilding process

Dan Ige reveals his training regime, the period he almost went into depression, the importance of mental health and much more.

Published : Jun 09, 2023 21:08 IST , Chennai - 5 MINS READ

Dan Ige poses on the scale during the UFC 269 ceremonial weigh-in.
Dan Ige poses on the scale during the UFC 269 ceremonial weigh-in. | Photo Credit: Carmen Mandato

Dan Ige poses on the scale during the UFC 269 ceremonial weigh-in. | Photo Credit: Carmen Mandato

United States’ Dan “50k” Ige will take on compatriot Nate Landwehr in the featherweight division at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 289 in Vancouver on Sunday.

Ige, hailing from Hawaii, started his mixed martial arts career with an amateur fight record of eight wins and two losses before going pro in 2014. In the inaugural season of the Dana White Contender Series, Ige made heads turn with a rear naked choke submission win over Luis Gomez. The American didn’t earn a UFC contract that night but was called up into the circuit for his next fight.

The 31-year-old made his debut at UFC 220 but failed to impress after slumping to a loss against Julio Arce via unanimous decision. From then on, Ige was relentless in his pursuit and transformed himself into one of the deadliest fighters in the featherweight division. He remained unbeaten from 2018 to 2020, winning six fights on the trot. 

Ige is famously known for his recently acquired moniker ‘50k’ and the story behind it is as interesting as his professional career. In March 2021, he finished Gavin Tucker in 22 seconds at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas and received a fight bonus of $50,000. Since then, he changed his nickname to 50k.

But it was not all roses for the grappler. During an exclusive interaction with  Sportstar, Ige reveals his training regime, the period he almost went into depression, the importance of mental health and much more... 

Q: What’s your mindset ahead of the weekend’s fight, coming at the back of a commanding knockout win against Damon Jackson? 

I’m just excited to get back into the ring. Compete and build on whatever I’ve done so far. I’m in a rebuilding process currently- rebuilding my name, rebuilding my resume and I’m trying to get back at the top, that’s where I want to be. 

My approach has always been the same. I prepare as if I’m the champion and everyone who faces me is the contender. Apart from the training, I keep my circle very small so that I can concentrate on my career and aim for longevity in the sport. I never really look far past one fight, because anything can happen in this sport, you know, injuries can happen. So far, I haven’t had any serious injuries and my sole focus now is this weekend. I want to keep my momentum going.  

Q: You and Landwehr share an identical record. Have you prepared anything different going into the fight? 

I think Nate is a great opponent. He’s held various titles and promotions. Even though our records are similar, I think I’ve fought higher-calibre opponents. But at the end of the day, a fight is a fight. All I can do is get prepared for it, fight well and put on a show for the world. 

Q: What was the feeling in your camp after that one-of-a-kind knockout win over Gavin Tucker?  

The win over Tucker was special indeed. It was in the middle of peak covid and on top of that, my wife was 36 weeks pregnant. So, in my mind, losing wasn’t even possible, not even an option. I must say, I have a similar mindset going into this fight as well and I’m going to try and do the same thing this weekend too. 

Q: We’ve just come out of a global pandemic; how do you think the UFC environment has changed? 

Contrary to what was happening around me, 2020-2022 was the best years of my life. I had a very active phase at that time and was fortunate enough to go out there and live my dream. I had the opportunity to grow my name and here we are right now. I’m a dad now, I have a family to provide. But I still have the same mentality, I’m sure that’s not changed. It’s nice to not have to get checked every hour and wear masks all the time. 

Q: Earlier this year, you opened up about the struggles you faced after losing three consecutive fights. Do you think the mental health of high-performing athletes is getting overlooked quite a bit? 

I think mental health is important in any career but it’s even more important in fighting or other high-performing sports like this. We have to compete on such a high level and for the mental and the physical preparation we undertake, a stable mind is an absolute must. You can easily get numb and dull to what you do daily. 

I suggest having a community or a set of people that you confide in. I speak to a sports psychologist and we sit and talk about the most mundane things and also about how I can improve myself. I think it’s important to express oneself and be vulnerable because most of the fighters put on a facade and try to act tough thinking that the sport demands it.

We’re all humans, we all have thoughts and it’s all about not letting your negative thoughts take control. I’m not an expert in this field but I follow these and that’s helped me to reach where I am today.

Watch the LIVE coverage of UFC 289 – Nunes vs Aldana on Sony Sports Ten 2 (English), Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi) & Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels at 7:30 am IST on 11th June 2023

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