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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 6 May 2021
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Why another Irish UFC star is the talk of the MMA world this week

Joseph Duffy significantly enhanced his reputation on Saturday.

Irish UFC lightweight Joseph Duffy.
Irish UFC lightweight Joseph Duffy.
Image: Dolly Clew

AS REPORTERS GATHERED in the media room at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow on Saturday night, one man dominated their discussions.

In the aftermath of UFC Fight Night 72, it wasn’t Michael Bisping — the winner of the main event — who had left the biggest mark on the UFC’s first ever show in Scotland.

Nor was it the Scottish trio of Joanne Calderwood, Stevie Ray and Robert Whiteford, who also picked up big wins to ensure that the fans went home happy.

His contribution to the evening’s entertainment may only have lasted just over three minutes, but Joseph Duffy is all about quality, not quantity. And there was plenty of the former on show during his bout against Brazilian veteran Ivan Jorge.

In his second outing in the UFC, Duffy made the mixed martial arts world sit up and take notice. Last week it was Conor McGregor, this week it’s the Donegal native. Either way, the elite of Irish MMA have got the fans and the media talking.

Duffy was signed by the UFC earlier this year and there was plenty of hype behind him due to some of the big names he has defeated in the past. However, in the list of reasons to be excited about Duffy’s potential, fights that took place five years ago don’t feature towards the top. Duffy has done enough in the last 12 months alone to earn and deserve his reputation as one of the very best prospects in MMA today.

Now training out of the renowned Tristar camp in Montreal — which is home to the likes of Rory MacDonald and Georges St Pierre — Duffy only returned to mixed martial arts last August following a three-year hiatus during which he focused on professional boxing.

UFC 185 Mixed Martial Arts Joseph Duffy en route to a debut UFC victory over Jake Lindsey back in March. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Duffy is now four fights into his second coming as an MMA fighter. The results? Four wins — two knockouts, two submissions — in a combined cage time of 17 minutes and 46 seconds.

After an undefeated seven-fight stint as a boxer, Duffy came back to the cage in 2014. Many doubted whether he’d be capable of recapturing the form that saw him feature on The Ultimate Fighter at the age of 21 and challenge for a Cage Warriors title a year later.

But those concerns have been firmly put to bed. His boxing experience clearly added to his arsenal and Duffy has looked better than ever. Last November’s spectacular KO of Julien Boussuge was a huge statement, with his right knee doing the damage.

Boussuge

Life in the UFC for Duffy started back in March when he scored a first-round KO of Jake Lindsey at UFC 185 in Dallas. Last weekend’s meeting with Ivan Jorge in Glasgow was expected to be a much tougher test, but Duffy made it look just as easy.

The impact of his spell as a boxer was evident once again, as Duffy displayed a level of striking, head movement and footwork not often seen in MMA. He occasionally over-committed with his shots, but the range was impressive: a wide variety of punches, knees and kicks was on show, and his opponent struggled to work out his angles.

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Strikes

The plan for Jorge, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, was to take the fight to the mat, but Duffy is no novice in the grappling exchanges either. Twice he was forced back against the fence by Jorge, who changed levels in search of the elusive takedown, but on both occasions Duffy was able to repel his opponent’s advances before separating with the fight still upright.

TD

If Saturday’s bout is anything to go by, Duffy’s improved stand-up ability is becoming a very useful weapon of deception. His striking calibre is convincing opponents that their best hope of overcoming him is by taking the contest to the ground, but that can be a fatal assumption to make.

Duffy is a black belt in Japanese jiu-jitsu and although that’s quite different to the Brazilian variation more commonly utilised in MMA, it has certainly provided him with a solid foundation. Duffy’s record, which shows that nine of his 14 victories have come via submission, speaks volumes.

Duffy says his BJJ has benefited significantly from working under the guidance of Firas Zahabi in Canada over the last five months. The 27-year-old is extremely comfortable off his back, possessing an excellent guard — as Ivan Jorge discovered over the weekend — and a purple belt promotion is surely overdue.

The Brazilian finally forced the Irishman off his feet but he was prevented from executing the takedown smoothly and immediately found himself wrapped up in a triangle. You won’t see many slicker submissions than this for the remainder of 2015 and Duffy was rewarded with a $50,000 Performance of the Night cheque after becoming the first fighter to force Jorge to tap out.

Sub

Examining how well-rounded Duffy’s game is, there are few — if any — glaring weaknesses to identify. It’s important to put his first two UFC wins in perspective by pointing out that neither Jake Lindsey nor Ivan Jorge are among the elite of the UFC’s lightweight division, but for now Duffy can only beat what’s put in front of him. However, it’s difficult not to get swept away by the comprehensive manner in which he’s doing so.

What the UFC decide is next for Duffy will be interesting. He’ll almost certainly return to action in Dublin on 24 October, but will they continue to move him slowly up the ladder or is a ranked opponent realistic? Regardless of the decision they come to, we anticipate that Duffy will be equal to the challenge.

He may lack the bravado and charisma of Ireland’s leading light in the MMA world, Conor McGregor, but don’t be fooled by Joseph Duffy’s more introverted personality. He has confidence and belief in equal measure, and with performances like last Saturday’s, it’s easy to see why.

Duffy has stated previously that winning a UFC belt is his aim. Although it’s still early days in his development in the UFC, you won’t find us betting against him achieving that.

With no fights scheduled, what’s next for the Irish in the UFC?

The Ultimate Fighter featuring Conor McGregor will be available to Irish viewers

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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