The UFC and BT Sport analyst spoke ahead of Joseph Duffy’s fight this Saturday at UFC 217.
Many have mused on whether Conor McGregor and Joseph Duffy would cross paths again since the latter arrived at the UFC in 2015, around the same time ‘The Notorious’ was gearing up for a featherweight title match.
It hasn’t looked likely with McGregor jumping divisions and sports while Duffy has forged a 4-1 UFC record, save for a loss to Dustin Poirier.
Indeed, Duffy himself claimed recently that he won’t chase the rematch unless McGregor remains the lightweight title holder.
“If anything, it’s something I would like to move away from,” Duffy said. “It’s not something that I’m chasing. I’d rather just go on my own path and if that fight happens, then it happens. Whoever is holding that belt, that’s my priority – working towards that and getting that belt.”
Former welterweight championship contender Dan Hardy claims that given his belief in ‘Irish Joe’s ability, the two could be on a collision course.
“I don’t think he hit the UFC as he expected. With that win over Conor McGregor, it kind of set him up as the golden boy to rise to the top and be there ready to challenge McGregor again,” Hardy told BT Sport.
“Unfortunately it just didn’t work out for him. It’s a shame because I don’t feel like his UFC record so far has really shown how capable he is. He’s an excellent boxer, he’s got good kicking ability. We know his ground game is dangerous, particularly off his back. He just needs to gather some momentum.”
It wasn’t a clear path to UFC 217 for Duffy by any stretch.
A loss to Ivan Musardo in 2011 saw the 29-year-old miss three years of MMA action, with a short-lived foray into boxing in 2013. Hardy feels that competing in New York on a massive stage will give Joe the impetus to stick it out and make it to the upper echelons of the sport.
“Walking out in Madison Square Garden with all those Irish fans there chanting and cheering, I think he’s going to realise why he’s doing this and fall in love with it again.
I hope that translates into his performance. If it does, I think he’s going to go on a good run.
“With these divisions that are so tightly contested, lightweight and welterweight in particular, I think it really only takes two or three good wins in a row to get him into a title conversation.”
Hardy’s take has been validated by the latest update of the UFC rankings (though the stock one holds in the rankings in the McGregor era might vary), as Colby Covington has moved up four positions to third in the 170lb. division following his victory over Demian Maia.
Even if Duffy goes on a tear, it’s ultimately dependent on the champ-champ as to whether an all-Ireland derby goes ahead.
“That win over McGregor is the golden ticket. McGregor, if he stays in the lightweight division and if he wants to defend that belt for a while, two or three wins for Joe Duffy and that’s a hell of a showdown for McGregor.”
‘Two or three good wins in a row to get into title conversation…that win over McGregor is the golden ticket”
— BT Sport UFC (@btsportufc) October 31, 2017