Firas Zahabi says Joseph Duffy’s concussion happened last Saturday on final day of sparring

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

Joseph Duffy’s late removal from Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 76 event came as a major shock this week, and the fact that it was due to a concussion suffered in training added even more questions.

When exactly did it happen? Why was he doing heavy training that could risk a concussion that close to fight time?

According to Firas Zahabi, who has been training Duffy at the TriStar gym in Montreal ahead of this fight, the concussive blow occurred on their final sparring session for the event last Saturday night, a full week out from the event.

“He suffered a concussion on the last day of sparring,” Zahabi said in a text message via “…Concussions are a serious thing, and I trust the doctor made the best call for Joe’s health. A week is not long for a concussion to heal.”

The loss of this fight left Saturday’s Dublin event without its headliner just a week after losing the co-main event between Ben Rothwell and Stipe Miocic as well. A flyweight bout between Paddy Holohan and Louis Smolka, initially scheduled for the prelims, is now in the main event slot.

Penick’s Analysis: Full on sparring in training has been an issue in the sport, as there’s a ton of damage done for fighters just in preparation before they even step inside the cage for a fight. There are a number of gyms and trainers who have been cutting down on live sparring in recent years specifically to address that issue, but Zahabi and TriStar have continued conducting sparring sessions up until close to the fight. These types of things can happen, and on occasion concussions can be caused by more minor blows than many might expect. Indeed, this may have been unavoidable. It’s something that could have happened from the wrong blow at any time, and it just so happened that this time the blow occurred a week before the fight. It’s massively unfortunate, but it’s a reality of combat sports.

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