UFC Vegas 29: Dan Ige eager to enter top-5, backs Volkanovski to beat Ortega

As he gears up for the UFC Vegas 29 main event against Chan Sung Jung, No. 8-featherweight Dan Ige dons the predictor's hat while also speaking about his MMA future.

Dan Ige is coming off a 22-second win over Gavin Tucker earlier in March.   -  GETTY IMAGES

The featherweights of Ultimate Fighting Championship have always put on a clinic when asked to feature in a show's main event. And this Saturday, the No.8 contender in the division -- Dan Ige -- will take on No.4-ranked Chan Sung Jung of South Korea at UFC Vegas 29 in Nevada.

Ige is coming off a 22-second win over Gavin Tucker earlier in March. The 29-year-old American mixed martial artist feels that he is at his best right now and is confident of taking Jung to the limits.

"I am at my all-time high of confidence. Everything in my career has led me to this moment. I feel like even my fight with Calvin Kattar has given me the confidence that I can go out there and put on a great show. I can perform for five rounds and feel like this is my time," he told Sportstar.

Jung, popularly known as the Korean Zombie, has finished 14 of his 16 MMA victories. His only UFC decision result came during the loss to No.2 contender Brian Ortega in October 2020. Ige is wary of the challenges his higher-ranked opponent could possess.

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"He's a finisher, and I'd say I'm a finisher myself. I've been to a few close decisions. This fight's crazy. The (betting) line is very even, and it should be because we both have that finishing ability. It's the killer mentality that I'm taking into this. So, I will be trying to knock him out or submit him, any way possible," he added.

Ige was on a six-bout winning streak in UFC before the defeat to No.5-ranked Kattar during July last year. The Hawaii native claimed that he has evolved into a much better fighter since the setback in 2020.

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"I had taken eight months after that fight to develop my skill set. It was something I never had a chance to do in my UFC career. I never got to go back and work on my holes and get better everywhere. The good thing about it is that I didn't even get to show any of it because my last fight was 22 seconds," said Ige.

"I'm looking forward to showing those improvements. The structure in my life and training camp has seen a tremendous change. I probably have the best routine now. I get the most out of every training session. I feel like I'm in my absolute best shape right now. If the Zombie can beat me in this form, then he's the greatest of all time."

Ige is desperate to get a positive result against Jung, move into the top-five of the featherweight division and eventually earn himself a title eliminator or a shot at Alexander Volkanovski's belt.

"My long-term goal in the UFC is to become the featherweight world champion. I want to defend the belt multiple times and retire with a lot of money," he quipped.

"If I get a win on Saturday, it's going to put me in the top-five, into title contention range. You have Volkanovski fighting Ortega and Max Holloway fighting Yair Rodriguez. So, it depends on how all of that plays out. That will dictate who I fight next. Maybe I get a title shot, or I have to fight one more time. Either way, I will be ready."

Ige also backs Volkanovski to defend his title against Ortega at UFC 266 in September 2021.

"I'll have to side with Alexander Volkanovski (vs Ortega). I'll take the champ in that one. I think he's on a roll. He hasn't earned the credit he deserves as the champion. I feel he's going to go out there and try proving a point," he signed off.

Watch UFC Fight Night - Jung vs Ige on June 20, 2021, LIVE on Sony Ten 2 & Sony Ten 3 (Hindi) channels from 4:30 AM IST.

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