By Raphael Garcia
“Irish” Joe Duffy walked out of UFC Fight Night 107 with his 16th career win, but more importantly, that win closed out his current UFC deal. In defeating Reza Madadi, Duffy secured some form of leverage in anticipation of the pending talks with the UFC and other organizations as to which promotion will be the next place he displays his MMA skills. With the way the contract situation started, this was a much-needed win for the 29-year old lightweight.
Heading into this fight, it was clear that Duffy knew his value, but he also knew that he needed a win to remain in a position of strength when it came to contract negotiations. The UFC continues to head towards becoming an entity that values entertainment cachet over sport, and Duffy holds a chip that very few competitors have: a win over Conor McGregor. We have seen what a win over the current UFC Lightweight Champion means to a fighter’s name value and asking price – see Nate Diaz – and Duffy is the last man to defeat McGregor at 155 pounds. Even though that win happened nearly seven years ago, Duffy sees it as a reason the UFC should be willing to bring him back.
"Hopefully the UFC would look at that and see it as an asset, rather than a hindrance. A lot of the Irish roster has thinned out on them but I don’t know [if that helps me]. It’s all down to how attractive the Irish market is to them.”
As the Irish market continues to show the UFC that it is worth the investment, Duffy’s win helps him remain relevant at a point in time when some were starting to question how far he could go in the promotion. His win against Madadi was technical and efficient, but it lacked the highlight reel moment fans saw in his first two UFC wins against Jake Lindsey and Ivan Jorge. He did show it against Mitch Clarke at UFC Fight Night 90, however, and it’s clear that Duffy has a second gear that didn’t come out against Dustin Poirier at UFC 195. If the UFC decides to offer him a deal that will bring him back to the organization, it will be interesting to see how he is matched up.
Al Iaquinta, Evan Dunham, Kevin Lee, and even the falling Gilbert Melendez would be bouts that could get fans excited while building up both competitors at the same time. The UFC is looking to create as many stars as possible, in order to promote in as many markets across the world as it can. As mentioned, Duffy can be someone that Irish fans get behind. Building him up with any one of these fights would be a move in the right direction.
Joseph Duffy enters the world of free agency with some leverage after leaving the O2 arena with a win on Saturday. Bellator has some interest, as the Viacom-owned organization continues to sign talent that aren’t superstars, but have the potential to break through in the eyes of fans and stakeholders. As mixed martial arts continues to shift, more fighters like Duffy are taking the gamble to fight out their respective contracts in hopes of higher paydays. Duffy, with his win at UFC Fight Night 107, seems to have taken a large step towards winning that bet.