Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight talents Dan Ige and Movsar Evloev will collide this weekend (Sat., June 4, 2022) at UFC Vegas 56 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
At 30 years of age, Ige has to prove he hasn’t run into a ceiling. A six-fight win streak broke him into the Top 10, but since then, he’s lost three of his last four bouts to some of the division’s best. Now, he’s being forced to fight down the rankings and defend his position. Former M-1 champ Evloev can relate to Ige’s hot start, having won five straight to begin his own UFC career. The Russian wrestler seems like a real problem at 145 pounds, able to soundly outmaneuver and control quality opponents with concerning ease.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Edson Barboza (UFC on ESPN 8), Mirsad Bektic (UFC 247), Gavin Tucker (UFC Vegas 21), Kevin Aguilar (UFC Fight Night 154)
Key Losses: Josh Emmett (UFC 269), Chan Sung Jung (UFC Vegas 29), Calvin Kattar (UFC on ESPN 13), Julio Arce (UFC 220)
Keys to Victory: Ige is a really fun fighter. He’s got solid power, a scrapper’s mentality and a brutal top game, though it’s been a little while since he’s been able to display the latter skill. Often, Ige is able to force opponents into deep waters and outfight them in that realm.
There are pros and cons to this stylistic match up for Ige. On one hand, Evloev is definitely a superior wrestler to someone like Jung, who found good success and won rounds by wrestling the Hawaiian. Fortunately, Evloev is a far less dangerous kickboxer, so Ige should at least be more comfortable in the stand up exchanges.
A good strategic comparison here is Ige’s bout against Bektic. In that back-and-forth battle, Ige did well to force a constant scramble, never allowing his opponent to rest from top position. When he did stand and create space, Ige immediately capitalized, firing hard punches and forcing his opponent to return to wrestling in a state of desperation.
That’s the plan for this match up, too. If Ige can dictate the space a bit and force Evloev to shoot from bad positions, he’s in a much better position to deny takedowns and do damage.
Key Wins: Hakeem Dawodu (UFC 263), Enrique Barzola (UFC Fight Night 162), Nik Lentz (UFC 257), Mike Grundy (UFC Fight Island 3)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Evloev is a smooth customer. A Master of Sports in Greco-Roman wrestling, Evloev’s transitional takedowns and top control are top-notch, meaning opponents rarely escape his grasp. At the same time, Evloev is not uncomfortable on his feet, even if kickboxing is largely a means to an end.
Earning Ige’s respect on the feet will be really helpful. Evloev has the footwork and striking skill to compete with Ige, even if there’s a power differential. The point is that Evloev doesn’t have to force the wrestling; he can let his shots happen organically, which is a far less exhausting style of fighting.
I’d actually like to see Evloev kicking often. Ige has a great jab, but he’ll be forced to close distance with that strike if Evloev is attacking from an even further range. If Ige is moving forward, the takedowns will come more easily, and Ige isn’t the type to hang back and wait forever.
The stakes are high for each man.
Ige is defending his position as a Top 10 Featherweight. Another defeat here makes it three in a row for the Hawaiian, which may be enough to remove him from the rankings entirely. Either way, a loss will definitely have Ige fighting further down the rankings next, preventing him from making any progress toward his goals. Fortunately, turning away the undefeated Russian would be a valuable feather in his cap, definite proof that Ige isn’t going anywhere.
Meanwhile, it’s a majority opportunity for Evloev. He can extend his UFC win streak to six, improve his professional record to 16-0, and break into the Top 10 in one fell swoop. Taking out a known name like Ige would really provide a wave of momentum to Evloev’s quest for the belt, potentially setting him up for a Top 5-ranked foe next.
At UFC Vegas 56, Dan Ige and Movsar Evloev will go to war. Which man will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 56 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN+) at 4 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 56: “Volkov vs. Rozenstruik” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.