One freak accident in sparring and Joseph Duffy’s fighting return to Irish shores was off.
The rising Irish lightweight was due to headline UFC Fight Night 76 with Dustin Poirier, but the UFC pulled him from the card after he suffered a mild concussion the week before the fight.
Duffy opened up about the experience on the MMA Hour, and revealed that although the incident occurred in his camp in Montreal, he had traveled to Dublin with every intention of taking part in the event.
“I felt healthy fight week. After it happened, we did a trial on the pads on the Monday and I felt good. I got on the plane with the intention of fighting. So as far as I was concerned when I was on the way over I was going there to fight. I felt good but unfortunately the doctors didn’t see me fit to fight at the weekend.”
The Donegal native explained that the concussive blow happened during a bog-standard training session. After being momentarily knocked out, his coach Firas Zahabi decided to end the session and they consulted a doctor in the Tri-Star gym for advice.
“As soon as it happened I knew. I still remember the combo that hit me. That was it, it was a flash knockdown. Obviously at the minute there’s a big thing with concussions and people take them pretty serious. In this day and age they see brain traumas as a major issue and they’re trying to eradicate any further damage.”
With the main event in jeopardy, and the co-main event between Stipe Miocic and Ben Rothwell already scrapped, Duffy’s medical tests began after he landed in Dublin.
“As soon as I got off the plane I had a few bits and pieces to do and I was immediately taken for an MRI. Later on that day then I went back to another hospital and we did a CAT scan. The following day, which was the Wednesday we did a concussion test, which was few different bits and pieces which was basically test your reflexes, different ways of gauging how bad your concussion was.”
“The last doctor said ‘you have a mild concussion’. As soon as I heard them words, I had a bad feeling.”
After he received confirmation from matchmaker Joe Silva that he was pulled from the event, Duffy was devastated.
“Numb would be the main word I would say. Just heartbroken. I’ve been away from here for about 12 weeks working my ass off to get in shape and I wanted to go to Ireland to put on a show for the fans. To me it felt like it was going to be my coming out parade. I was going to put myself in the rankings and I felt it was going to be a great fight. I was looking forward to the whole experience.”
Despite not fighting on the card, Duffy attended the event as a spectator. He admitted finding it difficult sitting in the stands watching on as the impassioned crowd got behind every Irish fighter on the card. However, he felt he neede to be there for his teammates.
“It was really tough, especially seeing the crowd, hearing the crowd and just thinking I should be in there. I shouldn’t be sitting here. It was very tough.”
“I had teammates, Tom Breese and Stevie Ray were fighting and I wanted to be there for those lads. I was just trying to turn it into a positive and trying to make sure he had everything that he needed. Obviously if I missed their fights, both of them got big wins, I would have been devastated.”
It was announced last week that Duffy’s bout against Poirier was rescheduled for UFC 195 on January 2. He confessed that he’s still limited with what he can in training due to the doctor’s orders, but he will be able to return to full contact sparring on November 14.