Initially scheduled to headline the UFC’s return to Dublin in October, the highly-anticipated showdown between Donegal’s Joe Duffy and Dustin Poirier will finally go ahead in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Unsurprisingly, injuries of all guises are commonplace in MMA. However, it was especially gutting when a mild concussion suffered in training forced Duffy to pull out of his main event bout with Poirier just three days before they were set to close out the show in the 3Arena.
Like his old foe Conor McGregor, the 27-year-old had been handed the honour of spearheading an event in his homeland after only two outings under the UFC’s banner.
It was a testament as to how highly Duffy’s employers regard his talents, given his reserved personality is almost the polar opposite of the newly-minted featherweight champion.
But it wasn’t to be. The omission only compounded the loss of the original co-main event between heavyweights Stipe Miocic and Ben Rothwell. Still, the remaining contests more than delivered and the near 10,000 fans in attendance got their money’s worth.
Thankfully, the brass didn’t scrap the match-up entirely and, at UFC 195, the promotion’s first event of 2016, the pair of lightweights will square off. They are slated to conclude their business in the evening's third bout at roughly midnight Irish time.
Without question, it is the most significant fight of Duffy’s career. Since debuting with the UFC in March, the former professional boxer has dispatched of his two opponents-Jake Lindsey and Ivan Jorge- inside of a round.
That being said, the fighters in question are of a mediocre calibre and not in the same league as the vastly experienced Poirier, who will be competing in the UFC for the 13th time on Saturday.
After losing to McGregor in September 2014, the Louisiana native took the decision to move back to 155lbs and the results have, thus far, been impressive. He has notched up two first round knockout victories and awarded a bonus for each.
The 26-year-old possesses a rounded skill-set but is not elite in any one particular facet of the sport. He has concussive power in both hands, though lacks Duffy’s fluency and technically sound striking arsenal.
And, just in case you haven't heard, 'Irish Joe' is the last man to defeat the Notorious one. In 38 seconds no less, at Cage Warriors 39 just over five years ago.
Poirier is ranked number 12 in the world, albeit in the UFC’s dubious rankings so, for Duffy- improving exponentially at Montreal’s Tristar Academy- a comprehensive victory would abbreviate his path to the top end of the sport’s most talent-rich division.
You can't trust the numbers, you can never trust the numbers, when the fight industry mates with television to make money for them both. But Conor McGregor has probably banked a couple of million dollars already, and should bank a fair few million more before he's finished.