One of UFC 195’s biggest fights is actually going down on the Fight Pass portion of the card. Highly touted prospect Joseph Duffy meets Dustin Poirer in what should be a trilling contest. The two were scheduled to headline a Fight Pass show in late October, but Duffy suffered a concussion a few days before the fight and was forced to withdraw from the matchup. The UFC is putting this on Fight Pass to make up to fans who were expecting to see the fight on Fight Pass a few months ago. Joseph Duffy (14-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC, -190 favorite) Duffy is one of a handful of European fighters that made serious waves in the UFC in 2015. The Irishman has been a highly touted prospect for quite some time, but he took three years off from the sport to pursue a boxing career. He returned to the sport in 2014 and immediately picked up two impressive wins in the Cage Warriors promotion. Those wins led to him getting signed to the UFC in early 2015. Duffy made an immediate impact with the UFC by dispatching Jake Lindsey in the first round with a vicious series of strikes. He followed that win up with an impressive first round submission victory against veteran Ivan Jorge in July. Duffy will return to the cage on Saturday night for the first time since he suffered a concussion in October. The 27-year old is a dynamic fighter in all phases of the game. In addition to his boxing background, he is a black belt in Taekwondo and jiu jitsu. On the feet Duffy works behind a stiff jab and utilizes good footwork, head movement, and angles. He often follows up his jab with stinging straight rights, left hooks, and powerful kicks to the body and head. Further, Duffy is very good at working his opponent’s body, which can pay dividends later in the fight. He likes to set a quick pace and can strike well both moving forward and on the counter. Defensively, Duffy is hard to hit clean because of his exceptional head movement and footwork. While Duffy is known for his striking, he has actually won most of his fights by submission. The jiu jitsu black belt is exceptional in transitions and scrambles and can lock in submissions quickly. Wrestling is not Duffy’s strongest area, but he does shoot well-timed double-legs and also has sneaky body-lock takedowns. From top position he is a smooth passer, has a strong base, and drops heavy ground and pound. Once he achieves top position Duffy has exceptional topside submissions, especially his arm-triangle choke. Dustin Poirer (18-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC, +165 underdog) Poirer has looked very impressive since he returned to the lightweight division last April. While his run in the featherweight division was very successful, he was not able to break through against the elite fighters in the division. Poirer believes he was cutting too much weight to make the featherweight limit of 146 pounds and it negatively affected his performances. Since returning to the lightweight division he has notched consecutive technical knockout victories over Carlos Diego Ferreira and Yancy Medeiros. He owns notable wins over Max Holloway, Erik Koch, Diego Brandao, and Medeiros. While it sees like Poirer has been around forever, he is only 26 years old and likely has not even reached his prime yet. The Louisiana native fights out of American Top Team in Florida and counts Robbie Lawler, Jorge Masvidal, and Cole Miller as training partners. The southpaw is a very well-rounded mixed martial artist and is dangerous in all phases of the game. On the feet Poirer likes to exchange with his opponent in the pocket, where he can unleash his powerful straight left, right hook, and right uppercut. Poirer also has strong kicks to the body and slapping outside and inside leg kicks. His power seems to translate even better at lightweight, as he has more energy and can put more into his strikes. The biggest concerns with Poirer’s game are his striking defense and chin. He utilizes very little head movement, does not take his head off the center line, and tends to back straight up instead of circling away. There is some hope that his chin will improve as a lightweight because he is no longer dehydrating himself so much. Severe dehydration can cause a fighter to get knocked out much easier. Like Duffy, Poirer also excels on the ground. While his wrestling is not elite by any means, he does have a decent arsenal of takedowns at his disposal, including sneaky trips and throws from the clinch. Once the action hits the canvas Poirer is a slick guard passer, throws heavy ground and pound, and has a nice selection of chokes. His d’Arce and anaconda chokes are particularly impressive. Thoughts This is an excellent matchup between two young, high-level fighters in the UFC’s increasingly crowded lightweight division. Duffy has gotten a lot of hype because he was the last person to defeat current UFC Featherweight Champion Conor McGregor. Poirer has also faced McGregor, but it did not go nearly as well for him, as McGregor knocked him out in the first round at UFC 178. That is the last loss on Poirer’s record and also his last fight as a featherweight. This fight is certainly compelling and I could make a case for either fighter to win. Ultimately, I will side with Duffy because I believe he has the higher ceiling of the two. Duffy puts all elements of mixed martial arts together brilliantly and he should have success with moving Poirer backwards with his jab and following up with hard straight rights and left hooks. Poirer’s shoddy defense is a big concern and the biggest reason why I have to side with Duffy. Poirer’s firepower on the feet and skills on the mat make him capable of winning any fight in the division, but his defense has let him down against the elite fighters he has faced. Duffy does not have anywhere near the amount of experience Poirer has, but his rock solid fundamentals are superior. The Prediction: Joseph Duffy defeats Dustin Poirer by technical knockout (round 2)
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