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Dan Ige almost pulls off stunning upset in UFC 303 co-main event

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Dan Ige stepped up to fight in the co-main event of UFC 303 with only hours’ notice and nearly pulled off a brilliant upset against Diego Lopes in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

The situation arose because Brian Ortega was unable to compete for medical reasons. Ige happened to already be in town and licensed to fight, with the American volunteering to step into the octagon.

Ige went the distance and won the third round against Lopes, but he narrowly lost in a unanimous decision.

Text message shows unprecedented situation in UFC

The UFC 303 broadcast shared an incredible text message sent just hours before the fight card was due to begin.

It was sent from Ige to UFC executive Hunter Campbell, with the No.14-ranked lightweight making his case for inclusion in the event.

“Hey Hunter, I’ve been in camp for three months,” Ige wrote.

“I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, I can fight this guy tonight and beat him.

“This is what legends are made of. I’m in, I’m ready. I’m in great shape.

“Please don’t take this opportunity away from me.”

Commentators called the last-minute change “an unprecedented situation” and “an insane development”.

Naturally, UFC bookmakers had Ige as a heavy underdog.

However, he almost proved them wrong, pushing Lopes to the brink in a very close contest.

How was Ige allowed to fight Lopes?

Some have questioned the safety of Ige fighting with such short notice, but Jeff Mullen, director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, allayed any concerns.

“Brian Ortega was medically unable to compete today, so they immediately started looking for a replacement,” he explained.

“Fortunately, Dan Ige, who is the 14th-ranked contender, is right here in town.

“He was already licensed. He fought here in February, so we already had all of his medicals and all of his requirements completed.

“He was available, and they made the fight, he’s ranked 14th and Diego’s ranked 15.

“So, it was a perfect matchup, perfectly approvable matchup.

“And again, we had everything, I checked with our attorneys to make sure everything was in order.”

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