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Dan Hardy: 'Two or three wins for Duffy and that's a hell of a showdown for McGregor'

Joseph Duffy returns to action this weekend at UFC 217.

Joe Duffy (27) Irish UFC lightweight Joseph Duffy. Source: Tommy Lakes/The42

THIS WEEKEND’S CLASH with James Vick at Madison Square Garden could prove to be a turning point in Joseph Duffy’s career.

That’s the view of former UFC star Dan Hardy, who believes Duffy is capable of breaking into title contention in the lightweight division — starting with his bout against Vick on Saturday night at UFC 217 in New York.

Duffy, a 29-year-old Donegal native, submitted reigning UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor in 2010 when the pair met during the early stages of their professional careers.

He signed for the UFC in 2015 and has won all but one of his five fights under the umbrella of MMA’s leading organisation. His hopes of becoming a title contender suffered a significant setback in January 2016 when he lost to Dustin Poirier via unanimous decision.

However, he bounced back with convincing victories over Mitch Clarke and Reza Madadi, and having recently signed a new seven-fight deal with the UFC, Hardy believes the well-rounded Irishman (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is capable of entering the upper echelons of the 155-pound division.

“With that win over Conor McGregor, it kind of set him up as the golden boy to rise to the top and be there ready to challenge McGregor again. Unfortunately it just didn’t work out for him. It’s a shame because I don’t feel like his UFC record so far has really shown how capable he is,” Hardy told BT Sport.

“He’s an excellent boxer, he’s got good footwork, he’s got good kicking ability. We know his ground game is dangerous, particularly off his back. He’s got an excellent guard, he’s very good at throwing up triangles and armbars. He’s got all the skills he needs, he just needs to gather some momentum.

“Walking out in Madison Square Garden with all those Irish fans there chanting and cheering, I think he’s going to realise why he’s doing this and fall in love with it again. I hope that translates into his performance. If it does, I think he’s going to go on a good run.”

Although Duffy has yet to crack the rankings in the lightweight division, Hardy says the Montreal-based fighter could force his way into the reckoning for a title shot — and a potential rematch with Conor McGregor — before long.

“I think it really only takes two or three good wins in a row to get him into a title conversation,” said 35-year-old former welterweight title challenger Hardy, who’s now a respected commentator and pundit having not fought since September 2012.

“That win over McGregor is the golden ticket. McGregor, if he stays in the lightweight division and if he wants to defend that belt for a while, two or three wins for Joe Duffy and that’s a hell of a showdown for McGregor.”

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Paul Dollery

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