Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight scrappers Dan Ige and Damon Jackson will throw down this weekend (Sat., Jan. 14, 2023) at UFC Vegas 67 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Times have been tough for “50k” Ige. Though he’s still ranked, Ige’s current three-fight skid pushed him out of the Top 10. Admittedly, each of those three losses came against elite competition, but it still leaves Ige in dire need of a victory. Conversely, Jackson is on the best run of his professional career. He’s won four in a row, most recently steamrolling Pat Sabatini in 69 seconds to completely derail the prospect’s would-be rise into contention. The two veterans currently have momentum in different directions, but all that depends on the outcome of this co-main event showdown.
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: Movsar Evloev (UFC Vegas 56), 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 hard-nosed jack of all trades. He’s as tough as they come and is pretty comfortable anywhere the fight goes, but he’s also definitely hit a bit of a ceiling in that elite specialists can outwork him in their respective areas.
Ige has shown off a lot of different stylistic looks over the years. In this match up, however, he likely wants to play the role of bully. Jackson is at his best when working from distance, and he’s been troubled in the past with aggressive wrestling. Ige has a sledgehammer of a right hand, and he’s more than adept at following up his punches with powerful takedown attempts.
The same strategy that saw him gut out the best win of his career opposite Edson Barboza should be applied here.
Record: 22-4-1 (1)
Key Wins: Mirsad Bektic (UFC Vegas 11), Pat Sabatini (UFC Vegas 60), Charles Rosa (UFC Vegas 39)
Key Losses: Ilia Topuria (UFC Vegas 16), Movlid Khaybulaev (PFL 2)
Keys to Victory: Jackson is a finisher. He’s submitted 15 of his opponents on the strength of his tricky grappling, and his kickboxing has come a long way since his first UFC stint. In general, Jackson has really come into his own lately.
I think this is a fight between men who both operate more successfully from the front foot. Jackson may have the range advantage, but he’s not typically a fleet-footed distance kickboxer. Instead, he lands harder shots when able to initiate the exchanges.
There’s no reason he cannot pressure the shorter man, provided he still makes the most of his reach. Really, Jackson should be looking for his own takedowns as well. Chan Sung Jung did well in countering Ige’s aggression with double leg takedowns, and there’s a good chance Jackson can do the same.
If he’s mixing up his offense and making use of his reach, Jackson should be able to lead the dance.
This is a potential crossroads fight for both Featherweights.
Ige has to win this fight for a multitude of reasons. His spot in the rankings is definitely at risk, and perhaps his spot on the roster too. Even with a loss, Ige would be in the top half of the division, but UFC could definitely release him in favor of an unknown up-and-comer. That’s the business nowadays!
On the other hand, Jackson has an opportunity to break into the rankings for the first time. He already has some solid momentum behind him thanks to his recent performances, and extending that win streak to five by taking out Ige would be a serious statement that at 34 years of age, Jackson is in his prime and ready to contend.
At UFC Vegas 67, Dan Ige and Damon Jackson will square off in the co-main event. Which man will have his hand raised?
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This story originally Appeared on MMAmania