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Was Dan Ige’s last-minute UFC 303 fight legal? Athletic Commission explains

LockerRoom Team
Calendar Icon30 June 2024

In a last-minute change at UFC 303, Brian Ortega was forced to withdraw from his fight against Diego Lopes, with Dan Ige stepping in on less than two hours’ notice.

The trouble for Ortega began during the weigh-in. Initially scheduled to fight Lopes at 145 pounds, officials changed the fight to 155 pounds early on weigh-in day. Despite the change, Ortega continued to struggle and fell ill, with a reported fever of 103 degrees.

Dan Ige, already present in Las Vegas, quickly stepped in to replace Ortega. Both Ige and Lopes weighed in at the T-Mobile Arena in front of Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) officials, with the bout now set as a 165-pound catchweight.

NAC Executive Director Jeff Mullen explained the swift arrangement. "Dan Ige was already in town, licensed, and had fought here in February, winning by first-round knockout. All his medicals and requirements were completed, making him available for the fight," said Mullen. "He’s ranked 14th, and Diego’s ranked 15th, making it a perfectly approvable matchup. Everything was checked and in order, including a pre-fight physical."

Mullen added, "Ige was already training for a fight on July 20th, so he was prepared and ready to go. I confirmed with his trainer, Eric Nicksick, who assured me Ige was ready to fight tonight."

This unexpected turn of events is not unprecedented in combat sports. Mullen recalled a similar situation in Anaheim, California, where one of the Topher brothers stepped in for the other on the day of the fight due to an injury or illness.

Dan Ige’s readiness and swift response ensured that the fight went ahead, maintaining the excitement and momentum of UFC 303.

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