Duffy manager: “Allowing Joe to test the free agency market is madness”

The Donegal man was in action in London last night.

Duffy manager: “Allowing Joe to test the free agency market is madness”

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

The London crowd roared Joseph Duffy onto victory last night as his striking clinic beat Iranian MMA veteran Reza Madadi soundly over three rounds, at the top of the preliminary card for UFC Fight Night: Manuwa vs Anderson.

There was a lot on the line for the Donegal man heading into the contest, after he reached an impasse in contract negotiations with UFC late last year.

Last night's bout with Madadi at the 02 Arena was the final fight on his current UFC contract. With Duffy now entered into free agency, rival promotions will get a chance to offer the Irishman contracts.

UFC will have a short window of time to match any offers 'Irish Joe' receives. Although a stoppage victory would have been the most dramatic way to announce himself on the market, Duffy's manager Graham Boylan claimed that the Tristar man's showing was "perfect" after the win.

"He put on a clinical display of striking. Reza is so hard to get out of there," Boylan told Newstalk Sport. "He's a very tough brawler and he fights more with his heart than he does with skill or technique.

"You could see it in the fight. The more Reza got hit, the more excited he got. With a guy like that you're never going to get him out of there easy.

Image: Joseph Duffy

"After having some time off and getting in three rounds with such a technical display; that's perfect for Joe. Really, it's perfect."

Duffy's reception drove home how highly regarded he is by European fans. Based on the ovation he received, Boylan thinks UFC shouldn't waist any time in using their matching clause to secure the Irishman.

"There were 18,000 people in here singing 'Ole, Ole, Ole'. They were standing on their feet and their screaming Duffy on.

"Honestly, I think it would be mad of UFC to not grab a hold of him while they can still use their matching clause. Allowing Joe to test the free agency market is madness. They need to lock it down now."

Boylan highlighted that Duffy will be looking at all offers that the various promotions bring to the table. Yet, when asked what the ideal outcome would be for the former pro boxer, Boylan insisted that once UFC made Duffy feel valued, he would be happy to sign on the dotted line for the promotion again.

"He is happy with UFC. He's got great relationships with a lot of the staff members. The UFC is where he wants to stay, but at the end of the day it’s going to come down to what he wants financially and where he feels he is valued.

"The real thing for Joe is feeling valued. With the contract that he was offered previously, he did not feel valued. If they offer him something that appeals to him financially and make him feel valued I'm sure he will stay."

Ireland has become more and more of a hotspot for the biggest promotions in world MMA. In the last twelve months the UFC's biggest rival, Bellator, has moved into the market and as evidenced in its two main events on the island thus far, they are still in need of some further Irish selling power to promote alongside Strabane sensation James Gallagher.

Although Duffy never made it to the sole UFC main event he was booked for against Dustin Poirier back in October 2015 due to a concussion, he would be an ideal candidate to headline an event for any of the world's big promotions on the Emerald Isle.

While UFC may not have been aware of the scale of Duffy's fan base before Saturday night, Boylan thinks his London display could force the promotion to see the light.

"I think UFC are starting to understand the presence Joe has in Europe. For me, even though the UFC is a global organization, they are focused on regions. Maybe they just find it hard to gauge the scope of fighters in Europe.

Image: Joseph Duffy against Damien Lapilus in 2014.

"Over time they will understand these things more and when they do, they will know how much Joe means to the UK and Irish market. I think tonight will help that a lot, definitely."

Some people debated why Duffy was matched with Madadi going into the event as it seemed as though he was capable of taking on much stronger opposition.

When asked what he had thought of the match-up, Boylan claimed that Madadi was a "good fight" in terms of him being an opponent that was equal to the financial reward Duffy received for the fight.

"You should be fighting opponents that make sense for the financial gain you're getting out of it. You don't want to be fighting top 10 or 15 opponents when you’re not getting top ten or 15 money.

"To get an opponent equal to the financial rewards is what is best. In that respect, Reza was a good fight for him."