At first glance, it appears we have a tale of two fighters headed in opposite directions with the booking of Damon Jackson vs Dan Ige at UFC Vegas 67. Ige has lost 5 of his last 6 bouts, while Jackson is riding a 4-fight winning streak. Let’s take a deeper look into next weekend’s co-main event.
Damon Jackson, 22-4-1, 34 years-old, fighting out of Fortis MMA, is riding high after consecutive victories over Charles Rosa, Kamuela Kirk, Dan Argueta, and Pat Sabatini dating all the way back to 2021. Jackson’s strengths are his pressure grappling and submission game, though he is fresh off of a rare TKO victory in his last bout. Look for Jackson to attempt to ground Ige and stick to his opponent like a leech. This relentless grappling may come at a cost, as no human is invincible. A reality is that 23 out of Damon Jackon’s 27 pro fights have not seen the scorecards, and we’ve witnessed this combatant begin to fade late in a number of bouts where he has not found the finish. Jackson has also shown a susceptibility to being brutally KO’d via strikes as evidenced by performances vs the likes of Ilia Topuria, Movlid Khaybulaev, and Kevin Aguilar.
Dan Ige, 15-6, 31 years-old, fighting out of Xtreme Couture, has faced stiff competition in recent years, taking definitive losses to Calvin Kattar, Chan Sung Jung, Josh Emmett, and Movsar Evloev. Ige’s lone bright spot came in the form of a 2021 22-second knockout of Gavin Tucker. Dan Ige brings with him to the table a well-rounded skillset, fierce pocket exchanges, durability, a 51% takedown defense, and cardio to go five rounds if need be. It must be noted that no one has been able to finish Dan Ige through 21 pro fights.
Look for Damon Jackson to attempt to implement a suffocating grappling game-plan similar to that of Dan Ige’s previous opponent, Movsar Evloev, though something has to give with a takedown accuracy of 40%. Dan Ige’s toughness and ability to overcome adversity will likely present opportunities to land powerful strikes on the feet early as well as late when Jackson’s gas tank begins to empty. Something to note in this matchup is that although Jackson is the taller fighter, both he and Ige share an identical 71” reach. If this becomes a striking affair at any point during the bout, Ige should be winning the exchanges.
I believe we are witnessing recency bias baked into this line, and have gone ahead and locked in 1.2 units on Dan Ige to win at -108. Although Ige is on a skid, he’s the younger, more talented fighter with multiple paths to victory. Ige has also faced much stiffer competition than any opponent Jackson has beaten over Jackson’s 4-fight win streak. The pick is Dan Ige at pick’em odds.