Joe Duffy: Four Potential Opponents for His Return
Back in January Donegal’s Joseph Duffy lost to Dustin Poirier via unanimous decision. It was only the second defeat of his career and his first inside the octagon. It was a very entertaining fight and one that even in defeat, Duffy proved he belongs competing at the elite level of MMA.
Since his defeat though there has been some positive news for Duffy as he can no longer be referred to as ‘the man to last beat Conor McGregor‘. It was a title that I believe slightly undermined Duffy, his ability and his potential, even though I think there’s a compliment hidden in it somewhere.
It’s been over two months now since Duffy’s last outing and I’m sure that the powers that be at the UFC are deep in consideration to which fighter they will next match Joe with inside the octagon. So here are four fighters I believe would not only bring interesting and entertaining matchups but would also go a long way for Duffy regaining some of that momentum he lost that night to Poirier.
This is certainly a fight that would interest Joe from a stylistic point of view. Sanchez likes to go to war, stand toe to toe and swing bombs, may the best man win. Sanchez recently collected his 26th professional victory with an impressive performance against fellow veteran Jim Miller and would be coming into this contest on a high.
Unfortunately for Diego he would be coming up against an ex-boxing pro in Duffy and would be a massive underdog in my eyes because of the likelihood of the fight remaining standing. But as long as the fight goes, it should certainly be an entertaining one, as Sanchez’s usually are, and an opportunity for Duffy to really showcase his elite hand skills.
Perennial bonus collector Joe Lauzon is coming off a loss of his own, at the hands of Evan Dunham at the Ultimate Fighter Finale in December. Bouncing back from losses is nothing new to Lauzon and his only defeats in recent years have been to some of the best the division has to offer.
The majority of both men’s victories come via submission so this match up guarantees action wherever it takes place. It might not be the rank rewarding contest Duffy desires but a victory over Lauzon certainly does add gloss to an already impressive record.
Another fighter coming off his first loss inside the octagon is the highly regarded and decorated BJJ black belt, Gilbert Burns. The Brazilian had collected performance bonuses on both his UFC victories and was being touted as a lightweight contender before his decision loss to Rashid Magomedov in November.
The prospect of facing such a high-level BJJ practitioner shouldn’t face Duffy though as his last victory came over Black Belt Ivan Jorge via triangle choke in the very first round. Burns is a step up in class from Jorge, but any advantage Burns has over Duffy on the mat, Duffy more than matches while the fighters are on their feet.
‘El Niño’ is currently serving out a twelve-month ban for performance-enhancing drug use. The former Strikeforce lightweight world champion tested positive following his split decision loss to Eddie Alvarez at UFC 188, and will not be eligible to compete again until June.
Despite Melendez being 1-3 in the UFC, he is still the most difficult challenge for Duffy of this list. The Cesar Gracie black belt should be top ten ranked, and despite his solid ground game favours a stand-up war, living up to the come forward Mexican style of brawling. It is unlikely Duffy will want to wait until June to get back in action, but with the rewards on offer for a very winnable victory over Melendez, it might just be worth the wait.
By Neál Martin
Follow on Twitter: @NealKnows
Images courtesy of mmafighting.com & sherdog.com