By John Balfe
Ireland’s growing status as a hotbed of MMA continued last Saturday evening in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow. Of the three Irish fighters on show, two – Joe Duffy and Paddy Holohan – picked up decisive victories while the other, Team Ryano standout Paul Redmond, was the unfortunate recipient of a left hook from hometown hero Rob Whiteford, ending his night in the first round of a (up to that point) competitive contest.
Donegal man Duffy added to his reputation as one of the most exciting prospects in the sport. ‘Irish Joe’, as he’s known, has showcased a concussive striking game since returning to MMA from pro boxing last year but it was his grappling which saw him defeat Brazilian fighter Ivan Jorge, a fighter who had never tasted submission defeat in 30 bouts. The winner by triangle choke in the first round, Duffy became one of only six fighters to pull off that particular submission inside the Octagon since the beginning of 2014.
“It wasn’t the performance I was looking for but I’m glad to get the win”, Duffy said moments after the win. “I felt like I forced a few things and I wasn’t totally happy with how I performed. But it was unbelievable out there. I’d like to thank all of the travelling fans.”
It’s hard to see exactly how Duffy could have improved on his performance on Saturday evening, a sentiment shared by the UFC who awarded him a $50,000 performance bonus. But the fact remains, if this is what Joe Duffy looks like fighting below his best the entire UFC lightweight division should be on notice for what will happen when the former Cage Warriors contender hits full stride.
Elsewhere, SBG man Paddy Holohan improved his MMA record to 12-1-1 with a hard fought but dominant points victory over English fighter Vaughan Lee. The Tallaght native came out on top in a grappling-heavy contest which saw both fighters seize the initiative at various points throughout the three round fight. Holohan threatened with a triangle choke early, later contorting his foe even further with an added kimura. Lee, much to his credit, stayed calm and never allowed ‘The Hooligan’ to work to a finishing position, though the judges unanimously agreed that Holohan was the clear victor once the final bell rang.
“The only way I’m losing… well, I wouldn’t even know about it because I’d have to be dead”, Holohan said after the bout. “They say it’s the luck of the Irish but I don’t really believe in luck. I believe in John Kavanagh and in SBG and in all of my team.”
It was a disappointing evening for Paul Redmond, who earned the unfortunate distinction of being the first Irish fighter in 30 bouts in the Ultimate Fighting Championship to lose via stoppage. ‘Redser’ was always going to be on the back foot against hometown fighter Robert Whiteford, the first Scot on show in Glasgow that evening. Despite being very much in the fight, Redmond was caught with a left hook three minutes into the first round and moves to 0-2 inside the UFC.
“I’m just gutted. To be honest, I can’t actually remember getting hit or getting knocked out. But congratulations to Rob; he did what he was supposed to do”, a disappointed Redmond commented post-fight.
But with the Glasgow card now over, Irish eyes are firmly fixed upon the UFC’s return to Dublin on October 24th. Given that Conor McGregor will almost certainly not be on the card (though he’ll be in attendance we’re sure), the door has been left open for another member of the Irish MMA elite to seize a headline spot on this high-profile card.
Gunnar Nelson, the Icelander-turned-Irishman, is heavily tipped to star in the main event. Nelson scored an eye-catching finish of Brandon Thatch at UFC 189 a couple of weeks back in Las Vegas and now, at 5-1 in the UFC, is ready to make an assault at the summit of the welterweight division.
Joe Duffy, so impressive in his two UFC fights so far, is a strong contender to feature in the evening’s co-main event and Dustin Poirier, a former foe of Conor McGregor’s, has gone on record as saying he wants to be on the Dublin show. What a fight that could potentially be.
Elsewhere, Cathal Pendred, Holohan, Aisling Daly, Redmond, Neil Seery and maybe even a few new signees will surely appear on the UFC’s next visit to our capital. And if it’s even one tenth as exciting as last year’s event, we should be in for a very special night indeed.
Predicted Card For UFC Dublin's Irish Fighters
Gunnar Nelson v Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson
Joe Duffy v Dustin Poirier
Paddy Holohan v Louis Smolka
Neil Seery v Willie Gates or Richie Vaculik
Cathal Pendred v Nicholas Dalby
Aisling Daly v Angela Hill
Paul Redmond v Arnold Allen