Sometimes when two close friends square off in the cage, it makes
for a less-than-stellar product on fight night.
That wasn’t the case in the
UFC Fight Night 236 co-main event, where Dan Ige
authored a vicious knockout of friend and onetime training partner
Fili at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. Ige
floored his opponent with a massive overhand right and then left no
doubt with one final standing-to-ground shot to earn a knockout
victory 2:43 into Round 1.
For Ige, it was just business.
“I love Andre, man. He’s like one of my most favorite people in
this fight game,” Ige said on the ESPN+ post-fight show. “I
couldn’t let that get in the way of the business. That’s just how
it goes sometimes. You fight people you like. I knew if I went in
there and was his friend in there, he would have had much more
success. I had to go in there and have some mean intentions, and I
got it done.”
While Ige and Fili have trained together in the past, “50K” pointed
out that those sparring sessions weren’t necessarily helpful during
“I know where he’s good, so that’s where I had to be mindful. In
training, it’s so hard to take away things because it’s almost not
real,” Ige said. “In grappling, yeah we can go hard, go for
submissions. But sparring, we’re not trying to hurt each other;
we’re just trying to get better and find little holes and openings.
When you put those four-ounce gloves on and sign a contract, you’ve
got to do the business.”
Ige was originally scheduled to face Lerone
Murphy at Saturday’s event before Murphy pulled out due to
injury. Outside of the friendship aspect, he says the opponent
change didn’t require major adjustments.
“Not really. Lerone Murphy was pretty well rounded, so Fili is
really well rounded and super experienced,” Ige said. “I just had
to be mindful. I know he was good everywhere, so we kind of just
did the same thing — just focus on myself, get better and better,
get in the best shape possible, go in there and do the work.”
And when that work was done, there were no hard feelings between
Ige and Fili.
“I told him I loved him and I didn’t want to do that but I had to,”
Ige said in a backstage interview with the UFC. “And he