It was announced a few weeks ago that the UFC will be returning to Dublin on October 24th. This marks the first time ever that the promotion will have visited the small island of Ireland in consecutive years. Last July McGregor & Co. blew the roof off the then-named O2 Arena in nation’s capital.
Since the announcement that a return was imminent Irish fight fans sat patiently awaiting news of who would be the main event. As Conor McGregor had captured gold at UFC 189 it became very obvious that ‘The Notorious’ would be absent from the event, at least in a competitive capacity.
Then earlier this week the UFC laid it on us: Joseph Duffy, the man most famously known as the last to beat McGregor, would main event against a former McGregor rival in Dustin Poirier. The news was met with praise for the most part but yet there were still a few eyes rolling.
Those eyes look back to UFC 93, the first event ever in Dublin, which featured the likes of Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Shogun, Mark Coleman, Rousimar Palhares, Marcus Davis, Chris Lytle, et al.
You can understand their disappointment. These are the people who paid €30 for a ticket to watch these fighters rise through the ranks and now are expected to pay anywhere from €50 to €250, or more, if they wish to attend an event labelled the ‘U-F -C’, something they have all watched for years and stayed awake until 5am regularly to view. These people want to wowed by some of the biggest names much like they were at UFC 93.
This is a new age of the UFC and European events have mainly become a developmental territory for the promotion. Events held on this continent are used for rising talent from the region with a sprinkle of ranked fighters here and there. It makes sense for the UFC and I am not complaining either, I love watching these fighters but I understand their disappointment.
So back to the original topic. Should Duffy vs. Poirier be the main event?
Yes and no. I believe this is a very clever and calculated move by the promotion, it is a win-win. With McGregor now well situated in ‘championship’ territory it makes no sense for him to fight here unless it is in a stadium or if he needs to regroup after a loss. While he is on top that leaves a void, who can the Irish turn to next?
Of the current crop of Irish fighters on the roster the only suitable name at this time is arguably Joseph Duffy. He has looked incredible in his first two fights in the UFC and he has that big asterisk beside his name as being the last to beat McGregor. Now the Irish have someone to cheer for in the main event. And should he win then the UFC have another Irish star who could possibly be a title challenger in just a couple more fights.
Now for the negative side. Duffy has had just two fights in the UFC, one as a fight on Fight Pass and the other on the main card of a Fight Night. He has only been a member of the UFC roster for under five months and this time last year he hadn’t fought in MMA for three years. One could say he is being rushed to main event status.
It is rumoured that Gunnar Nelson could be the co-main event and if he fights someone like Stephen Thompson then I believe a fight like that should be the main event. However we should hold all judgements until all fights are announced.
I expect all or a majority of the Irish UFC fighters, minus McGregor, to compete on the Dublin card and of that bunch I believe Duffy is in the best position to be the main event.
Regardless of which side of the argument you stand on you can’t deny that Joseph Duffy (14-1) vs. Dustin Poirier (18-4) is an outstanding fight.
(title image via UFC Twitter page)