Donegal MMA star Joseph Duffy. Dolly Clew (Cage Warriors)
In Good Company

Joseph Duffy will be training alongside the legendary Georges St-Pierre for his UFC debut

Duffy is off to Montreal next week to prepare for his 14 March bout.

A UFC DEBUT is a defining moment in an MMA fighter’s career, and there’s no better place to prepare for it than at the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Canada.

That’s where Ireland’s Joseph Duffy is travelling to next week, as he continues the build-up to his long-awaited first taste of UFC action.

Duffy is set to face Brazilian-born lightweight Vagner Rocha at UFC 185 in Dallas on 14 March, and he’ll spend the last five weeks of his training camp in the company of some of MMA’s top fighters at the world-renowned camp.

The Donegal native has previously cited iconic ex-UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre as his idol. During his time in Montreal, Duffy will rub shoulders with the likes of GSP and current UFC title contender Rory MacDonald

“Anybody who leaves his home, his spouse and his family behind to travel to Montreal, minus-20 degrees, to train full-time and live in our dorms — and it’s not a five-star hotel — is clearly serious about their career,” Tristar coach Eric O’Keefe told The42.

“For me, a big indicator of someone with the correct attitude and approach is a guy who’s willing to get out of their comfort zone for the sake of getting better. That’s what Joe is doing here.

“I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve seen from his fights, but what impresses me most about him is his demeanour, the way he carries himself as a human being, before and after the fight.

“We don’t really have trash-talkers at Tristar. We’re a humble team and we do our talking inside the Octagon, so you couldn’t find a better guy than Joe to fit in here. We’ve talked at length, we seem to get along really well and I’m very impressed with the person that he is.”

Although Georges St-Pierre vacated his UFC title just over a year ago, the 33-year-old has recently returned to training following ACL surgery, and speculation has linked him with a return to the Octagon.

Training alongside GSP, as well as a host of other top fighters at Tristar, is sure to pay dividends for Duffy as he aims to make a big statement in Dallas in just over six weeks.

Georges St-Pierre Former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Graham Hughes Graham Hughes

“Joe could be drilling with guys like Rory McDonald and Georges St-Pierre in the gym, so he can just concentrate on being a sponge of learning,” explained O’Keefe.

“He’s already accomplished a lot by beating people like Conor McGregor and Norman Parke, and he has done some great things with Cage Warriors. But that also gets on my nerves because Joe is much more than just a guy who beat Conor McGregor.”

Duffy will carry a lot of hype and expectation into his UFC debut as a result of those previous wins, and while O’Keefe is careful not to add to that, he believes the 26-year-old former professional boxer has unlimited potential.

“We have a good environment here at Tristar for fighters who are keen to progress, but if you plan to do that, you have to really want it. From everything Joe has shown me, he wants it,” O’Keefe said.

“I’m really excited about this. We’ll work with Joe and, whether he continues to come to Tristar in the long-term or not, I think he’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the UFC. The sky is the limit.

“From all we’ve seen of Joe, he can take it to the top. It’s a challenge to leave so many people behind and focus on progressing, but if Joe can do that, there’s nothing stopping him from going as far as he wants. With all the skills he already has, he still has room to grow too. That’s the scary part.”

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