Monday 28 May 2018

Exclusive: The only Irishman to beat Conor McGregor, Joe Duffy, will return to UFC action in July

Fergus Ryan

Fergus Ryan can exclusively reveal the UFC will announce today that Joseph Duffy will make his return to the Octagon against Canada’s Mitch Clarke on the 7th of July.

The event, UFC Fight Night: dos Anjos vs. Alvarez (UFC Fight Night 90), takes place during International Fight Week as part of the lead up into the historic UFC 200.

So far, the only other fight announced for the card is also in Duffy’s division; the lightweight title fight between champion Rafael Dos Anjos and challenger Eddie Alvarez.

Originally from Donegal, Duffy entered the UFC in March 2015 with a big reputation built on the European MMA scene. At one point he was probably most famous for being the last fighter to beat Conor McGregor (in 2010) before Nate Diaz took that mantle in March.

After making short work of his first two UFC opponents with first round stoppages, Duffy was fast becoming ‘one to watch’ in the lightweight ranks, so much so that UFC president Dana White tipped him as a fighter who could go all the way to the title.

Duffy was originally slated to headline UFC Dublin against Dustin Poirier last October but his fight was moved to UFC 195 in January after he was forced out with an injury.

Easily his biggest test to date, Duffy dropped a one-sided unanimous decision to Poirier, only his second defeat in a 16 MMA fights.

Canadian Mitch Clarke offers a good test for Duffy to start climbing back towards the top ten. Big for a lightweight, Clarke has a crafty submission game.

Speaking to, Duffy said he is looking forward to the challenge – “He’s been in there with some of the top guys, Michael Chiesa and Al Iaquinta so I know it’s going to be a good fight and an exciting fight so it’ll put all my skills to the test.”

Having entered the UFC with some momentum, the fickle viewer may question whether the hype was real after his loss to Poirier. Duffy believes he knows what contributed to the loss.

More importantly, his coaching team at TriStar Gym in Montreal have been working with him to improve his skill set.

Poirier's success lay in his ability to take Duffy down and keep him down. Naturally, you’d expect wrestling has been prominent in the training sessions since then.

Duffy confirmed as much – “I’m always working on wrestling and every aspect of my game and I don’t feel I showed the best of my abilities in that fight, wrestling-wise. I’ve been working on it a lot and just trying to make sure I correct the errors I made in that fight… I just feel my overall game has improved and Firas (Zahabi, head coach at TriStar) has made some changes to my training and I just feel its’ made me overall a better mixed martial artist.”

Breaking down the fight, Duffy can lean on his undefeated pro-boxing career and should have the advantage on the feet in the striking aspect.

Though he does not excel at wrestling, Clarke is dangerous on the ground with seven wins by submission. Duffy can’t afford to relax at any point in the fight.

Regardless of where the fight goes, Duffy feels confident he can get the job done – “I never go in with a game plan like ‘I’m just going to stand or I’m just gonna do the ground’. I’ve always felt I’m like a complete package. I’m just going to wait for opportunities whether it be on the feet or on the ground and this fight is no different. I just feel my overall game has improved since my last fight.”

Always a fierce competitor, Duffy is focusing on the task in front of him. The loss to Poirier was a set-back but the end-game is always the same with Duffy; to be the best in the world.

“After the last fight, not that I was looking past Dustin, but it taught me not to look too far ahead. The road to the title is just one fight at a time and that’s the way I’m looking at it. I’m just concentrating on Mitch Clarke. I know I’ve a tough test in front of me, he makes fights difficult for everyone he’s in against so I just have to concentrate on him at the moment.”

UFC Fight Night: dos Anjos vs. Alvarez featuring Jospeh Duffy will be only broadcast live on the UFC’s digital platform Fight Pass July 7th. See for more details.

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