Joseph Duffy has made a big impression in the UFC in two short fights so far, taking out Jake Lindsey with a head kick in March, then submitting Ivan Jorge after knocking him down in July. The quick and exciting victories gave the 27-year-old a main event booking in his home country of Ireland, where he’ll take on Dustin Poirier this weekend at UFC Fight Night 76.
“It was definitely a bit of a shock,” the 27-year-old said of the early headlining slot in an interview with MMAJunkie.com. “I was the fight before the co-main event [at UFC Fight Night 72] in Glasgow, so I thought maybe I would be the co-main this time. But obviously when I got word I would be the main event, it makes sense for me to be the main event in Ireland.
“…I don’t feel any pressure whatsoever. With the fight, being the main event – none of that gets to me and I don’t look too much into it. Really, it’s just an idea that people put in their head. It doesn’t change anything. I’m still going to go out there and fight the same fight I’ve been training for. None of these factors play a part. I’ve trained for a five-round fight before and cardio was never an issue. It’s the same this time. I feel there’s little adjustments, when you’re in this position you step things up slightly, but I’m relaxed and things will go well.”
Duffy – whose previous claim to fame was his status as the last man to defeat current Interim UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor – has a difficult fight ahead with a resurgent Poirier, but he sees it as an important step up to move him into contention.
“A win over Dustin puts me right up in the mix and I’ll be ready to fight the top 10 guys, the elite guys,” Duffy said. “I think this fight might go longer [than my first two UFC fights]; I’m fighting a top-level guy and I’m prepared for five rounds. That’s what I’m ready for, but if he gives me the opportunity to finish the fight quickly I will take it.”
Penick’s Analysis: This is a great opportunity for Duffy to show he’s a legitimate contender in this lightweight field, and to move himself into the top ten to 15 in the field. A win over Poirier is meaningful, especially off the wins Poirier’s had since moving up from featherweight. The winner of this main event is going to be making a significant statement, and if Duffy can pull it off impressively in front of a home crowd while carrying an event, he’ll be entrusted with even bigger spots from there.