Video: 'I was heartbroken and numb' - Joe Duffy on missing out on UFC Dublin
It should have spelled disaster, but luckily the withdrawal of Joseph Duffy from the main event at UFC Dublin worked out well for everyone.
Duffy can feel hard done by having been denied an opportunity to fight in front of his home crowd. But the fact that his employers were willing to take a promotional and commercial gamble by taking him out of the fight shows how much the value their fighter and his well-being.
Despite losing the main and co-main event fights the gamble paid off. UFC Dublin was a promotional and commercial success. All the remaining fighters on the card delivered brilliant performances and thoroughly entertaining fights for the paying fans.
A full refund had been offered after the cancellation of the Duffy fight. While some fans did avail of this all the returned tickets were immediately snapped up. The 3Arena was packed from the first fight till the last.
Duffy was keen to give his side of the story and we spoke to him on the Saturday afternoon before the event took place.
Firstly, Joe outlined the sequence of events that led to his removal from the card.
“In the last week of training, Saturday afternoon, in the last spar, just caught a shot. It was a freak accident and I got stunned” explained Joe.
Part of the fight contract that Joe would have signed requires him or his team to alert the UFC if anything occurs in training or otherwise that may impair a fighters’ ability to his job. One of Duffy’s coaches informed the UFC of the training incident.
Once a medical examination proved Duffy had sustained a mild concussion, the UFC followed protocol and issued the fighter with a medical suspension.
The suspension would have been issued by a State Athletic Commission if the event occurred in the US. The UFC maintain these protocols themselves if the event is in a country without an athletic commission. Members of the Irish Amateur Pankration Association were operating as a shadow commission for UFC Dublin with the intention of providing an autonomous commission for the next UFC event held in Ireland.
Naturally, once Joe found out his fate he was bitterly disappointed but quite philosophical about the outcome.
“I was heart-broken and just numb. It was hard to get my head around... I landed here with the intentions of fighting but unfortunately I couldn’t pass the medicals and the staff deemed me unfit to compete. All credit to the UFC that there willing to put fighter safety first… Obviously it’s not the decision I want, I still wanted to fight but it wasn’t meant to be.” Joe told us
Once the news broke all sorts of conspiracy theories circulated as to why Duffy was out. Was he ducking Poirier or holding out for another opponent?
Joe confirmed there was nothing suspect about his withdrawal - “It’d be crazy. Why would I want to pull out of my first main event fight on home soil against a ranked opponent? Everyone is gonna have opinions but I came here to fight and do my job.”
It was undoubtedly correct decision but if there was a downside it’s that Irish MMA fans might not get to see Duffy fight on home soil for a long time. Just like Conor McGregor before him, Duffy has so impressed the UFC brass that they may prefer to keep him for the more lucrative Pay-Per-View events, generally held in the US.
Joe had one final message for Irish MMA fans - “I’d like to thank all the fans for all their support. I met a lot of them at the weigh-in and they’ve been very supportive. They’re as gutted as I am that the fight is not going ahead and I’m very grateful of all the support they give me.”