On Wednesday, the UFC announced the lineup for its ‘UFC Go Big’ promotional campaign, highlighting the planned main events of the future, and Conor McGregor wasn’t the only Irishman featured.
UFC champions Ronda Rousey, Daniel Cormier, Conor McGregor, Robbie Lawler, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Rafael Dos Anjos, as well as top contenders Alexander Gustafsson, Carlos Condit, Luke Rockhold, Donald Cerrone, Dan Henderson, Holly Holm and Vitor Belfort will be among the more than 20 fighters participating in the launch event.
However, looking down the list, one fighter in particular stands out.
The name of Joseph Duffy is the only one of twenty without a UFC ranking alongside it. Even more noticeable is that nearly all the listed fighters are in their respective Top 10 or are legends of the sport (Roy “Country” Nelson, Dan “Hendo” Henderson).
While the move to place Duffy in such esteemed company obviously makes promotional and marketing sense in anticipation of UFC Fight Night Dublin (where Duffy faces Dustin Poirier) – it also marks the substantial plans which the UFC apparently have for Irish Joe.
Lest we forget, Duffy had retired from MMA in 2011 to go on a 7-0 run as a professional boxer before returning last year. Two fights into his UFC career, the quiet Joe finds himself rubbing shoulders with the true elite of the sport.
Similar to another Irish man, his sudden rise has not gone unnoticed. In few cases do the UFC let anyone tag along for the ride – they know that Duffy has something special and they have seen what a blossoming market Europe has become.
In Duffy, Dana White and Lorenzo Ferrititta may have found the perfect quiet foil to the anarchic McGregor – and if anyone knows how to package that, it’s White.
Interesting times lie ahead for the Irishman.
Full UFC “Go Big” Lineup
- Daniel Cormier, UFC light heavyweight champion
- Ronda Rousey, UFC women’s bantamweight champion
- Jose Aldo, UFC featherweight champion
- Conor McGregor, UFC interim featherweight champion
- Rafael dos Anjos, UFC lightweight champion
- Alexander Gustafsson, No. 2 UFC light heavyweight contender
- Holly Holm, No. 8 UFC women’s bantamweight contender
- Luke Rockhold, No. 1 UFC middleweight contender
- Donald Cerrone, No. 2 UFC lightweight contender
- Josh Barnett, No. 8 UFC heavyweight contender
- Roy Nelson, No. 12 UFC heavyweight contender
- Dustin Poirier, No. 13 UFC lightweight contender
- Joe Duffy, UFC lightweight
- Vitor Belfort, No. 4 UFC middleweight contender
- Dan Henderson, No. 11 UFC middleweight contender
- Matt Brown, No. 5 UFC welterweight contender
- Kelvin Gastelum, No. 15 UFC welterweight contender
- Frankie Edgar, No. 2 UFC featherweight contender
- Chad Mendes, No. 3 UFC featherweight contender