Mitch Clarke: John Maguire is “on par” with Joe Duffy as an opponent

mitchclarke

Mitch Clarke returns from over a year on the sidelines when he meets Joe Duffy to open up the main card of UFC Fight Night: Dos Anjos vs Alvarez tomorrow night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Having faced off against ranked opponents like Michael Chiesa and Al Iaquinta in the past, Clarke outlined why he believes he has had tougher tests than the Donegal man, and in doing so, he compared ‘Irish Joe’ to former UFC fighter, John Maguire.

“In all honestly I think I’ve had tougher fights,” said Clarke. “Michael Chiesa, I think, was a tougher fight. Al (Iaquinta) was as well. John Maguire was on par with where Joe is now in terms of ability and who he has faced. John had won a lot of tough fights at 170, and I think that’s a bit of a difference too.

“I just think I’ve faced harder matchups, and that’s not to say that Joe isn’t a hard matchup because everyone on this tier is really tough. For me, Chiesa is a top ten fighter and Al is a top ten fighter, so I guess I’m kind of brought in as a litmus test for those kinds of guys. I’ve seen where those guys are at and I have full confidence in myself.”

The Canadian knows how popular Duffy is in Europe and hopes that a win over him will provide him with a significant boost in trajectory.

“Joe has a lot of hype behind him because he was (the last guy to beat McGregor) for so long. Compared to fighting other unranked guys like Cody Pfister, who is only really only known for losing to Sage Northcutt, I think a win could be really good for me.

“This fight should see me get a big boost if I win it, and I think that’s why UFC have put us on the main card during such a spectacular week. People know who Joe is and they know I’m a gritty guy who always comes to fight.”

When pushed to isolate one of Duffy’s main assets going into the contest, Clarke pointed to his opponent’s confidence.

He said:“A big part of Joe’s game is his confidence. He wants to impose his game on you and his confidence allows him to do that. He’s very confident in his skill set and I think that can be both a good thing and a bad thing. I’m kind of similar in terms of how stubborn I can be. His confidence is something that definitely sets him apart from a lot of fighters.”

Clarke believes that Dustin Poirier has set the blueprint with regard to defeating Duffy, but even though he comes from a wrestling base, he is adamant that he won’t shy away from the exchanges with ‘Irish Joe’.

“Dustin Poirier set a good game plan against Joe. I think there are some ways to improve on it. Some of Duffy’s previous opponents that he has beaten showed me a lot of what to do and what not to do.

“Ivan Jorge forced takedowns on Joe, and they were bad takedowns. The one takedown that led to him getting submitted was not executed very well.

“The thing is, this is MMA – it’s not just wrestling and it’s not just boxing. Those are the different areas that Joe and I will look to impose our strengths. I know I can throw bombs and I know he has the ability to take me down if I get lazy.

“Coming from a grappling background, people don’t expect me to hit so hard, but I do. I’ve been working with really good striking coaches, especially since my last fight, so if he thinks I’m gonna go in there and rush a double leg or something, he’s sadly mistaken.”

@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.