By Raphael Garcia
The world of mixed martial arts is a tough one for its athletes. Not only do they have to contend with getting into dangerous brawls in the cage, but they also have to defend their every move to the public. Dustin Poirier is one such example, as he currently faces criticism for the cancellation of the UFC Fight Night 76 main event. After the revelation that he turned down a bout against Norman Parke, the situation began snowballing out of control. But remember, these fighters are professional athletes, and protecting their careers is their first objective. That is exactly what Poirier successfully accomplished.
Poirier is the odd man out of an equation that involved Joseph Duffy and a last minute concussion. One week before their important showdown in Ireland, Duffy was removed from the bout due to his inability to get medically cleared.
In response, Poirier decided to also withdraw from the main event. The UFC offered Poirier the chance to fight Norman Parke in the headliner instead, but “The Diamond” smartly walked away from that suggestion, much to the chagrin of some fans that “enjoy” this sport.
This was exactly the right decision for Poirier to make. In Duffy he had an opponent with some cache and name value. The fact that he is the last man to defeat Conor McGregor immediately adds interest to any bout he’s involved in. Downgrading to a fight with Parke creates a risk that Poirier correctly avoided.
Parke is coming off of two straight losses and on the verge of finding himself outside of the UFC. Poirier is riding a two-fight win streak and surging in the lightweight division. Changing from an opponent as technical and sophisticated as Duffy to one that uses a slugging style such as Parke creates a lot of problems, as the bout completely changes.
Fans who complain or who believe that Duffy is doing a disservice to their interest should reevaluate their stance. Losses are tough to bounce back from at this stage in the sport. Rick Story’s career hasn’t been the same since that fateful loss to Charlie Brenneman at UFC on Versus 4. At this level of competition, the risk from these kinds of short notice bouts is one that fighters should avoid.
The matchup between Dustin Poirier and Joseph Duffy had the fight community excited for this weekend’s event. Although the bout is now off, fans should not be upset at Poirier for his choice to stay on the sidelines. This is the best step to ensure that he is in the best position in the long term.
UFC Fight Night 76: Holohan vs. Smolka (formerly UFC Fight Night 76: Poirier vs. Duffy) takes place on October 24, 2015 at 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland.