Dustin Poirier vs Joseph Duffy Preview and Analysis – UFC Fight Night 76

Joseph DuffyThe main event of UFC Fight Night 76 is a lightweight contest between rising contenders Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier and “Irish” Joe Duffy. The winner of this matchup will become a major player in the lightweight division. Poirier has been very impressive in his two fights since moving up to lightweight, while Duffy has obliterated both of his opponents he’s been matched him up with thus far.   Dustin Poirier (18-4 MMA, 10-3 UFC, -205 underdog) Poirier was a perennial top 10 fighter in the featherweight division before his loss to Conor McGregor last year. After that defeat, Poirier stated he could not handle the weight cut anymore and decided to move up a weight class. During his run in the featherweight division he compiled a 9-3 record, including wins over Max Holloway, Diego Brandao, and Erik Koch. Since he moved up to the lightweight division he scored two impressive victories over Yancy Medeiros and Carlos Diego Ferreira, both of whom are quality opponents. He hopes a win on Saturday night will earn him a fight against a top contender down the road. The 26-year old seems like he has been around forever, and that’s because he’s already fought 13 times under the UFC banner since 2011. Poirier’s problem has been that he easily beats mid-tier competition but struggles against elite fighters. His three losses in the UFC were to McGregor, Chan Sung Jung, and Cub Swanson, who were all elite fighters at the time. He also has shaky striking defense and a questionable chin. I don’t know how those factors will play out when he starts fighting better fighters at 155 pounds, hopefully his coaches at American Top Team will help him improve his defense. However, “The Diamond” is a very skilled offensive fighter. Fighting out of a southpaw stance, he has a sharp jab and a powerful right hook and straight left. Additionally, he has thudding leg and body kicks. One of his better attributes is his killer instinct, as he always senses when his opponent is hurt and tries to finish them before they recover. Not to rely solely on his striking, Poirier has an excellent ground game and has a nasty D’arce choke. While his submission game is on point, his offensive wrestling isn’t that great, so he needs to finds other ways to get to the floor if he finds himself outgunned on the feet. Hopefully his coaches and training partners will help him improve his takedowns.   Joseph Duffy (14-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC, +245 favorite) Duffy burst onto the UFC scene last year primarily because he was the last fighter to beat Conor McGregor. Shortly after his fight with McGregor he took a 3 year absence from the sport to pursue a boxing career. After going 7-0 as a pugilist, he decided to return to mixed martial arts. After one quick victory, he was immediately signed by the UFC. Duffy has performed admirably in the UFC so far, even though his competition has been poor. “Irish” blew the doors off of Jake Lindsay and Ivan Jorge with first round stoppages. This will be Duffy’s toughest opponent to date, so it will be interesting to see how good he looks against Poirier. I am not quite sure what to make of the 27-year old just yet. The fighters he beat are not very good and his win over McGregor isn’t the same McGregor you see in the cage now. “Irish Joe” has a well-rounded skill set, he can pretty much do it all. He has quick, powerful hands that he throws together nicely in combinations. Further, he has a brutal left kick to the head and body and his timing is excellent. On the mat he is black belt in Japanese jiu-jitsu and a purple belt in Brazilian jit-jitsu. He has nine wins via submission out of his 14 fight UFC career, which includes a variety of chokes. Duffy has lost by submission before, so that is something to look out for. However, he now trains at the Tri-Star gym in Montreal, Canada, which is home to fellow UFC fighters Georges St, Pierre, Rory MacDonald, and Chad Laprise. I also question how his cardio will hold up because he has never gone five full rounds before and may experience an adrenaline dump. I don’t believe there is any doubt Duffy is a great prospect, but I would like to see him fight real competition first.   Thoughts This is a great matchup between two lightweights on the rise. Duffy has landed a headlining spot in his only third UFC fight. Poirier, on the other hand, has a lot more experience against much better competition. There is no denying Duffy’s skills, I just wish I could have seen him face some tougher fighters, but it is what it is. Poirier and Duffy both have defensive issues and elite offensive skills. This is a tough one to call but I will side with Duffy because of his better striking fundamentals and Poirier’s shaky chin. This is just a leap of faith on my part and I would not be surprised if I wrong here.   The Prediction: Joseph Duffy def. Dustin Poirier vs TKO (Round 2)

Written by Mike James

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