Dan Ige: Meet the Hardest Working Man in All of Mixed Martial Arts

When Dan Ige confirmed up in Las Vegas from his house in Hawaii he had $26 to his identify.

At the time, Ige was a younger up and coming fighter who needed nothing greater than to coach and compete full time so relatively than toiling away at a development job at house, he determined to select up and transfer in together with his pal Brad Tavares and provides MMA his full focus.

Sadly, Ige found out slightly shortly that if he needed to outlive, he was going to wish to discover a strategy to make some cash on the aspect whereas he was nonetheless looking for fights on the regional scene.

That’s when he met Tavares’ supervisor for the first time.

“I didn’t have too much money and I was living with Brad and Ali [Abdelaziz] manages Brad,” Ige defined when talking with MMAWeekly. “He’s like ‘do you want to go to dinner with my manager?’ and I assumed it was a superb alternative to only exit and meet some individuals. I used to be like 2-Zero or 2-1 as a professional. So I went to dinner and Ali stated ‘I need an assistant’. He had one other man as his assistant and he went on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ and he was going to be in the home for six weeks. I had no job at the time, I had no concept what I used to be stepping into so I stated positive.

“He said ‘come to my house tomorrow, 9 a.m.’. I showed up, I brought a notebook and a pen and I didn’t know what to expect and we jumped right into the deep end. It’s been this way every single day for the past three years.”

The deep finish for Ige was studying an entire new aspect of the struggle enterprise as a supervisor working with one of the deepest rosters in the complete sport.

Abdelaziz’s firm, Dominance MMA, handles fighters resembling Khabib Nurmagomedov, Frankie Edgar, Kelvin Gastelum, Ilir Latifi, Cody Garbrandt, Kayla Harrison and quite a few others.

Ever since that first day he confirmed as much as work as an assistant, Ige has shortly transitioned right into a full time supervisor working with that roster alongside Abdelaziz and the relaxation of his staff.

And when Ige says he’s a full time supervisor, he completely means it.

“It makes me mad when fighters say they are training so hard,” Ige stated with amusing. “It makes me angry because I know I’m training just as hard and I’m putting in the extra work. I’m going straight from the gym, jump in the car still sweating to go to work and then back to the gym. There’s no time. I am the hardest worker in this game, pound-for-pound, I know that. It’s not like I think I am, I know I am.”

For the previous three years, Ige has cut up his time between administration and preventing however in 2017 he lastly earned his shot at the UFC after competing on Dana White’s Tuesday Night time Contender Collection.

That was all the time the dream for Ige however simply because he was incomes a nicer paycheck whereas competing on the largest stage in the world for combined martial arts, his objectives and ambitions by no means modified.

That’s why Ige nonetheless works full time as a supervisor even whereas getting ready for a contest arising this weekend at UFC on FOX in Milwaukee.

“My main focus is fighting but I need to be realistic,” Ige stated. “I have to put meals on the desk. Preventing is nice. I make nice cash preventing however that’s one night time in a lump sum. I’m not assured a battle so I’d go six months with no battle. At the least working in the administration business, retains me round preventing, retains my thoughts sharp and I really feel like I’m continuously evolving.

“I’m still in the spot, I’m at almost every fight because we have so many guys on every card working for what I would say is the largest management company in the world so it’s a lot of work. It’s crazy but somehow I do it.”

As a lot as Ige is consistently round the battle enterprise, he’s discovered a approach to compartmentalize his two worlds regardless of the proven fact that they collide each day.

Whereas he typically trains alongside the similar fighters he manages, Ige himself truly has a supervisor who isn’t Abdelaziz.

In accordance with Ige after he first arrived in Las Vegas and began working for Abdelaziz, he was launched to Brian Butler, who owns and operates Suckerpunch Leisure — the similar firm who manages UFC featherweight champion Max Holloway, former champion Carla Esparza and an extended listing of UFC and Bellator fighters in addition to regional hopefuls.

“I didn’t have too many fights and Ali said ‘this is a guy I trust and I really believe he can help build you and help you achieve your goals and get you to the UFC’,” Ige stated earlier than signing with Butler to function his supervisor. “He has a lot of connections with the regional shows and Brian was the guy. Ali is big on loyalty and I’m always going to big on that.”

Even now whereas Ige has lengthy since discovered the ins and outs of the enterprise as a result of he’s seen all sides of the sport from preventing to contract negotiations to sponsorship offers, he nonetheless will depend on Butler for a lot in his personal profession.

“I think a manager is necessary,” Ige stated. “If Sean Shelby walks as much as me and says ‘I’ve obtained this battle for you’, I’m going to take it. I don’t care who it’s. Even when it’s a nasty matchup for me, I’ll say let’s go trigger I’m a fighter. Typically you want a supervisor to step in. Rather a lot of occasions we’ll get a struggle for somebody, we’ll speak to the coaches earlier than we speak to the fighters as a result of as a fighter, we’ll struggle anybody.

“I think a manager is important.”

Butler, who has labored with Ige ever since that preliminary introduction from Abdelaziz, says that the younger featherweight prospect is the excellent shopper not solely as a result of he’s a tough employee but in addition as a result of the proven fact that he is aware of the enterprise so properly.

“Dan is one of the easiest guys to manage because he also works on the management side of the fence,” Butler stated about Ige. “We joke about him being massive time now that he has made it to the UFC however he’s very humble and respectful to everybody.

“I really can’t say anything other than I love the guy.”

Proper now, Ige is just some days away from his battle towards Jordan Griffin in Milwaukee however the weeks main as much as the occasion have been identical to another for the 27-year previous Hawaiian.

Simply earlier than ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 28 Finale in Las Vegas a pair of weeks in the past, Ige was spending his morning coaching at Xtreme Couture earlier than grabbing a fast bathe and a change of garments to satisfy with one of his shoppers, Kamaru Usman, who was headlining the occasion.

Ige was simply weeks away from his personal battle however he nonetheless discovered a solution to prioritize coaching earlier than then turning his consideration to no matter Usman wanted throughout a media day with reporters in addition to the last hours forward of stepping onto the scales to weigh-in.

He’s even constructed a rapport with the UFC employees, who know him from the double life he leads as fighter and supervisor.

“I love the UFC staff and they’re so fun to work with,” Ige stated. “I was just at the UFC offices yesterday and I was at media day with Kamaru Usman but when I show up to fight, I’m just Dan. They know they don’t have to hold my hand. I go in there and I do my work. I make their jobs easier.”

Whereas he’s not often in the headlines for the work he does behind the scenes, Ige is certainly a worthwhile asset to the administration group that handles an extremely numerous roster throughout quite a few promotions round the world.

“Dan, first of all not only works for me he’s like my little brother and great training partner,” Abdelaziz stated about Ige. “He’s the guy who helps me keep the rhythm for Dominance MMA and he’s a very important part of the business. He’s the hardest working man in MMA — full time job and full time fighter in the UFC.”

It’s not straightforward by any means and Ige will admit at occasions even he can get frazzled after a troublesome work week.

“It’s a balance,” Ige stated. “Typically if I do get too caught up with work and it’s hectic, I’ve to recollect what I’m doing right here. I’m knowledgeable fighter and I’m preventing in the UFC. I’ve to place myself in verify typically. It’s a stability. At the finish of the day, I’m a husband, too, in order that’s my third job.

“It’s a crazy life. I’m definitely living in the fast lane.”

It’d sound like rather a lot to deal with however Ige wouldn’t have it another approach.

In reality, he’s grown to like working in MMA administration virtually as a lot as he adores preventing and the actuality is one of these companies will maintain him fed lengthy after the final cage door closes on him.

“If I stopped fighting today, I could be a full time manager to support myself and support my family,” Ige stated. “I love fighting, this is my passion and I want to keep fighting.”

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