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Brian Ortega out of UFC 303; Dan Ige late fill-in vs. Diego Lopes - ESPN

LAS VEGAS — In an unprecedented move, Brian Ortega has been forced to withdraw from his UFC 303 co-main event fight with Diego Lopes due to illness and has been replaced by Dan Ige, who was not scheduled to compete on the card. The fight will be contested at a catchweight of 165 pounds.

This marks the first time one fighter has stepped up to replace another on the day of a fight without weighing in the day before. Ige, who was in attendance at T-Mobile Arena, managed to weigh in at 164.5 pounds just hours before the fight and will now be slotted into the co-main event. Lopes weighed in at 161.5 pounds, and both parties hastily agreed to make the fight happen and keep an injury-stricken fight card rolling.

Once Ige heard that the co-main event was in jeopardy, he sent a direct message to UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell at 4:18 p.m., less than three hours before the start of the main card.

«Hey Hunter, I've been in camp for 3 months,» the message read. «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.»

Ortega was tabbed to face Lopes in the co-main event on short notice after the UFC was sent scrambling when Conor McGregor's broken toe forced him out of the main event against Michael Chandler just over two weeks before the event. Ortega had difficulty cutting weight for the scheduled featherweight fight at 145 pounds and negotiated to bump the fight up to lightweight (155 pounds) early Friday morning.

Ortega looked noticeably out of it at the official weigh-in on Friday morning, and reports began to surface that he was dealing with an illness as UFC 303 was