Joseph Duffy, “When I’m doing something, I’m doing it because I want to be the best, not just to make up the numbers”

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The departure from MMA of 10-1 prospect, Joseph Duffy, appeared to be something of an enigmatic end to a promising young career. MMA’s loss soon became boxing’s gain, as the 26-year-old quickly amassed an impressive 7-0 professional record inside the ring in the space of a year. That Duffy left the cage on a deflating loss to Ivan Mursado back at Cage Warriors 44 in October 2011, seemingly played no part in the decision to make the switch.

“The two aren’t related at all. After the Mursado fight I moved up to London and began training at the MMA Clinic and then I started doing a bit of boxing with John (Tandy), trying to improve my hands. He said ‘you’ve got a bit of a talent, why don’t you give boxing a go?’ and I just thought ‘I’ve got nothing to lose really,’ ” Duffy explains. “I could always go back to MMA with decent hands, so it was just a win-win for me.”

Though the allure of boxing to Duffy was obvious, the decision was not taken lightly.  “The decision wasn’t too hard, but at the same time it was difficult to make, I was leaving the sport that I preferred to tell you the truth.”

“MMA has always been my first love. But the opportunities in boxing were great and I got the opportunity to work under a world-class coach here in London, so I didn’t have to up sticks and move everything again.”

If the decision to move into boxing came from the head, the Irishman’s decision to return to MMA came from somewhere else entirely.

“When you’re doing something for maybe the wrong reason – obviously with boxing you’ve got a bigger financial gain – I think there’s only so much you can do. Whereas when your heart’s in something, you give it 100 percent. I’m in MMA now, my heart wasn’t in boxing the same way it was in MMA. I would say that’s probably dead and buried,” He adds “Once I’d kinda made up my mind, ‘that was it’ I thought, ‘time to go.’ “

During his sabbatical from MMA, many of Duffy’s contemporaries have enjoyed considerable success, with the focus on Irish MMA, in particular, being greater than ever before. Has any of this inspired him upon his return?

“Definitely. Seeing what those guys are doing, I felt like I was on the brink there myself. Watching all these other Irish fighters doing well in the top ranks makes me think, ‘Yeah, I want a bit of that.'”

Many will look to past victories over notables such as Conor McGregor and Norman Parke in anticipation of Duffy’s return, but what does being the last loss on those particular resumes mean to Duffy?

“It gives me more exposure. It probably gives me a bigger target on my head as well,” Duffy says. “Both Conor and Norman have gone on to do bigger and better things, so a fight earlier on in their career? That’s irrelevant when you look at what they’re doing now. I put it behind me, it’s in the past.”

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“Top level, UFC – that’s where we all strive to be at,” explains Duffy, whose return to MMA is set to take place at Cage Warriors 70 on August 16, in Dublin, Ireland. “We’re lucky here that Cage Warriors is throwing out incredible fight cards and the shows are just second to none – you can’t fault them. We’re lucky that we’ve got a stage to prepare for the UFC. I think that’s why everyone’s doing so well, they’re so well prepared from fighting in the Cage Warriors ranks so when they go to the UFC, it’s not such a big leap.”

With 70 percent of his wins coming by way of submission, and on the back of an undefeated turn in boxing, Duffy is making it very clear what to expect when he next sets foot in the cage.

“I’m back for the finishes. That’s what I want, I want to put on exciting fights. I want to be finishing these people. That’s how you get to the big stage, putting on exciting fights, finishing these fights.”

By JJ Saddington – @JJSaddington

‘Dinner with Gary Goodridge’ is a new blog and podcast series rising up from the debris left by The Phantom Knee podcast. It is a home for opinions and debate. There are fantastic sites out there that already keep you up to date with play-by-plays and vital statistics; DINNER WITH GARY GOODRIDGE provides an alternative, not a rival to these sites. 

Owner/Editor of SevereMMA.com. Writer, Podcaster, Producer of 'Notorious: Conor McGregor' film, 'Conor McGregor: Notorious' TV series, 'Ten Thousand Hours', 'The Fighting Irish' and more documentary films.