Joe Duffy’s Golden Ticket

Fightland Blog

By Peter Carroll

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC

Every fight week we expect the same kind of headlines despite different athletes taking to the Octagon. Title shots, future opponents, insults for counterparts and improvements ahead of the fight date are reoccurring topics that always seem to pop up even though writers will always try to keep away from what some consider “cliché.”

However, over the last two years, there has been another subject that is almost always brought up especially when lightweights and featherweights are fielding questions from the media. More times than not, someone will eventually ask the fighters about their feelings on polarizing Irishman, Conor McGregor.

As the media storm surrounding McGregor has grown with each of his wins so has the likelihood of his name being brought up. UFC on Fox was almost a parody on the Dubliner’s popularity. As soon as a microphone was thrust under the faces Charles Oliveira, Nate Diaz and finally Rafael Dos Anjos, they all tried to align themselves with ‘The Notorious.’

While the rest of the fighting world scream and shout for a chance to fight Conor McGregor, Joe Duffy remains silent with the fight world’s golden ticket tucked safely away in his pocket.

‘Irish Joe’ would be the first man to tell you that his 2010 win over McGregor definitely played in his favor when he signed on the dotted line for UFC, but the Irishman’s two first round winning outings for the promotion underlined the fact that he deserved to be at the dance.

A win over Dustin Poirier on Saturday night will thrust him into the shark tank that is the lightweight division’s top 15, but you still won’t hear him say a bad word about any of his potential counterparts. Not even about the man who holds what he desires most, the UFC’s lightweight championship.

“I think Dos Anjos is very good,” says Duffy, days before he left for Las Vegas. “He seems very calm and he’s been around the game for a very long time. He’s a got great ability in all aspects of the game and what I like about him is the way he really brings it to every person he fights.

“He doesn’t hold back, he really gets stuck into them. He’s got a quiet confidence about him too, and I can see him being at the top of the division for a while.”

Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Like the rest of the MMA world, there is no doubt that Duffy watched on as different fighters threw their names in the hat for a potential fight with McGregor. And the Donegal man knows exactly why they’re doing it. However, while the rest of the lightweight roster court what has been described as ‘MMA’s lottery ticket’, Duffy remains focused on becoming “the best fighter in the world.”

“For me, I’m not talking about that fight because I’m not thinking about that fight,” he tells me. “I’m thinking about who I am fighting next. They guys who are calling him out, they have usually just won a fight so they’re putting it out there that they want to fight him next.

“At the minute, I’m matched with Dustin. He’s ranked 12th at the minute, so a win in this fight can put me up in the mix. We’ll see what happens in this fight and we’ll take it from there. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before we’re both in amongst the same group at the top of the division, and I expect that people will be talking about that fight a lot when that happens.

“You’ve got to look at all these people calling him out from a few different perspectives. If you get the fight with Conor there are a lot more eyes on you. It opens a lot of doors in terms of sponsors and stuff like that. There’s a lot of money involved from a lot of different angles.

“The other thing is, Conor is at the top of the game now so he is one of the guys to beat at the moment. If you beat Conor there are going to be a lot of people talking about you. There are a few different reasons why all these call outs make sense. My goal is to be the best fighter in the world, so the end goal for me is always that UFC belt.”

With McGregor adamant that he will be joining the fray at lightweight, Duffy will very likely be one of the names that fans will want to see alongside ‘The Notorious’ should he claim another convincing win over Poirier at UFC 195. To add to that, there is no denying the competitive nature of McGregor and he will absolutely want to reclaim the last loss of his professional career against his fellow Irishman.

Looking at the contingent that awaits him at the top of the bracket, again, Duffy is full of praise for his future opponents. 

“I really feel that anyone in the top 20 of that division could beat each other on their day. I think that just goes to show how competitive the 155 lbs division is. It’s exciting times for the UFC and it’s exciting times for myself because I plan to be up there at the top of the division in the next year.”


Check out these related stories:

UFC Dublin Fighters Shed More Light on Joe Duffy's Withdrawal

Joe Duffy Stands to Gain a Lot More Than a Victory at His Irish Homecoming

McGregor Was on the Tip of a Lot of Tongues in Florida