Joe Duffy: Poirier’s aggression will bring out my best

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Saturday night will mark Joseph Duffy’s first bout in ‘The Fight Capital of the World’ and while a lot of MMA fighters get excited about milestones like that, Tristar’s Irish lightweight is taking his usual measured approach to the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Although it had been a dream of Neil Seery’s to fight in the MGM Grand ahead of UFC 189, he hadn’t anticipated what a struggle it is to eat healthily ahead of a weigh-in in Sin City. Even though it is something to consider, Duffy is confident that the majority of the weight has already been shed ahead of his lightweight showdown with Dustin Poirier at UFC 195.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” he laughs after contemplating the dietary dilemmas of Vegas. “My weight is good. When I get over there I’ll be working with George Lockhart so everything will be taken care of basically. It’s not like I have to lose a pile or do anything too severe, I’m pretty much there or thereabouts.”

Of course, January 2nd is the second date that has been put in place for Duffy and Poirier. MMA fans in Ireland will never forget the original main event for UFC’s 2015 show in Dublin being pulled by the promotion at the eleventh hour.

The headline bout against Poirier proved how far Duffy had come in such a short period of time. While other Irish UFC charges spoke of the launch pad that their Dublin dates gave them in terms of a national fan base, despite the fact that he was unable to compete in front of his countrymen in October, ‘Irish Joe’ is happy with the backing that his performances and his general demeanor have won him so far.

“I know an opportunity like that will come back around again. I was gutted, though. A headlining fight and it was at home, it would have been nice to put on a big fight in Ireland. For some reason, it wasn’t meant to be and training has gone exceptionally well for this second date. I’m just going to keep moving forward and next year hopefully we will be back for another card in Ireland.

“I really can’t complain, I’ve been getting great support from all the people back at home. I don’t really think about things like that though to tell you the truth. I don’t think of things in terms of ‘this will be good for my career’ and things like that. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate the support, it’s amazing, but I just focus on one fight at a time.

“My hope is that the performances I put on and the way that I am, in general, I hope that gets the fans behind me. Whether the support comes from back home or anywhere else, it’s always welcome.”

As one of the great stories of resurgence in 2015, Poirier is a fight that a lot of lightweight prospects would have been happy to take given his position in the 155 lbs division’s rankings. A win for Duffy will be huge for his trajectory and the Donegal man is grateful that UFC kept the Poirier matchup after his forced withdrawal in Dublin.

“Thank God, it wasn’t too long after Dublin that we got everything lined up again. I was able to get back to Tristar and put some serious work in, but it was good that we got the new date sorted because it gave me something to focus on. It was the boot up the ass that I needed to get straight back into the gym because I had something to aim for again.

“I spoke to Dustin in Dublin and he was pretty eager to get the fight back on as well. It’s good that we managed to get it lined up so quickly. I still feel it’s a very exciting fight for the fans and on January 2nd, it’s definitely going to live up to the hype.”

Duffy believes that Poirier is very capable of being the first man to force him out of the first round during his UFC tenure. The Irish lightweight sees a lot in the ATT man that reminds him of his own style, and he is confident that the matchup will make for an “exciting” exchange when the two finally meet.

“There’s something very satisfying about going out there and finding yourself in a situation where you have to dig deep,” he explains. “I think that forces you to show other strengths and talents that you have. There’s something about that kind of fight that really appeals to me. I don’t know, it just sits well with me.

“We train so hard that I don’t want to be in and out of the Octagon inside a minute or two. You want to be able to spend a little bit of time in there and enjoy yourself. I think Dustin is a fighter who can bring me further into a contest and I’m looking forward to getting in there with him.

“He’s a finisher. He gets in there and he doesn’t hold back. We see other fighters going in there and they’re very tentative, but with Dustin you know he’s going to go in there and give it his all. He’ll fight for every second that he’s in there to guarantee the win. I think that makes for an exciting fight especially because I always look to do exactly that same thing. I think that the fight has the potential to end at any moment.”

A win will see the standard of Duffy’s opposition improve drastically as he will probably join the division’s elite in the top 15. Duffy wants to focus on building his skillset instead of fighting as much as he can if he enters the rankings. His goal is to take his ability to the “next level” as he makes his first run at UFC gold:

“If this fight goes well I’ll be looking to get into the mix with the top ten in the division. If that’s the case I will want to take some time to enjoy myself and work on my game. I feel like I’ve been in fight camp for a full year. Even though it’s only been two fights, I pretty much spent the whole year training for fights.

“We had a ten week camp for Dublin and as soon as we got back we were straight into another camp for the new date with Dustin. I’ll just take a little bit of time off to enjoy myself and eat some cake,” he laughs.

“Seriously, though, I would really like to take my game to the next level after this fight, so I’d like to take a bit more time to get myself up to that next notch and then I’ll go from there.”

@PetesyCarroll

Peter Carroll is Severe MMA's lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice's Fightland.