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Dan Ige says he’s happy to welcome Edson Barboza to the featherweight division, despite the potential risks involved.

Top 15-ranked Ige (13-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) faces Barboza on May 16 in Jacksonville, Florida, and while Barboza will be vying to take his spot in the rankings, Ige jumped all over the opportunity to face the spectacular Brazilian striker.

Barboza (20-8 MMA, 14-8 UFC) has struggled of late, but has consistently shared the octagon with some of the world’s best lightweights, including Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje, and Ige said he’s excited to face someone who has kept such illustrious company through his career.

“I’m pretty pumped about it,” Ige told MMA Junkie. “He’s coming down to 145, to my division, but I’m ready. I feel good, I train all the time. I’ve pretty much never got out of camp ever since my fight.

“I was super excited, obviously he’s not a ranked guy (at featherweight), but that’s the thing with the rankings, so many guys especially, they hit that Top 10, they don’t want to fight the guys under them. They only want to fight the guys above and it goes for everybody. So yeah, I’m taking a risk to give up my ranking, but I’m fighting a legend and in order to be a legend you have to beat the legend and this is the type of guy I have to beat in order to be a champion.”

Ige has won his last five in a row, and is coming off his biggest win to date, a split decision over Mirsad Bektic in February. Now he faces the biggest-name opponent of his career in the form of Barboza, as both men target a shot at the division’s top-ranked contenders.



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