Every fight should be a must-win situation for the participants.

For two fighters on the UFC Fight Night 76 card, they not only have the proverbial must-win tag on them, but they also have an opportunity to state their case against disbelievers. Both fighters have the added advantage, and perhaps pressure, of attempting to make it all happen in front of rabid hometown supporters.

In Dublin on Saturday, Joseph Duffy has the main-event spot against Dustin Poirier. He’s on a four-fight winning streak, although none of those victories have come against what you would call name opposition. But what puts Duffy in the spotlight is the fact that he is the last man to defeat the UFC’s darling-of-the-moment, Conor McGregor.

It was the seventh fight of Duffy’s career, and McGregor’s sixth. The encounter came five years ago in Cage Warriors and in both men’s homeland of Ireland.

The end came only 38 seconds in as Duffy coaxed a tapout via arm-triangle choke.

Since then, McGregor has won 14 in a row, six of those verdicts coming inside the UFC cage highlighted by his interim title victory over late replacement Chad Mendes.

Duffy has won seven of his last eight, all but two of them in Cage Warriors – a far cry from the bright lights of the Octagon.

But since arriving in the UFC, Duffy has made no bones about the fact that he can once again beat self-hype machine McGregor. He’s gone as far as stating that he can do it much more spectacular fashion that a quick submission. Everyone has listened, but few have bought into Duffy’s boast.

Squaring off against Poirier in the main event gives Duffy the chance to prove his point. True, Poirier isn’t at the top of the heap, but he is a very good test. If “Irish Joe” smashes “The Diamond” in convincing style, it certainly could set the table for a rematch against Duffy. Whether that potential matchup is for a featherweight title or not definitely remains to be seen.

As for the second Irishman in the ‘show me something’ situation, Cathal Pendred had won eight in a row until falling in a split decision to John Howard at UFC 189.

Pendred has failed to endear himself to most UFC fans for his grinding tactics, ones which virtually guarantee a dull fight that is drawn out to a numbing decision. Ten of Pendred’s 17 wins have come via decision.

The real reason Pendred is in any kind of spotlight at the latest edition of Fight Night is the fact that he has repeatedly put himself out there as a potential opponent for Phil “CM Punk” Brooks, the former WWE champion who is attempting, at some point, to make his debut in MMA.

The only possible way Pendred gets that fight is if he does something to warrant the attention that would come with that mega-exposure tilt. It’s highly unlikely that a fighter with 22 fights would be sanctioned to fight a guy making his professional debut, but Pendred has campaigned non-stop for the bout.

The UFC wouldn’t even try to get this fight permitted if Pendred is going to shoot from the dressing room and hold ‘Punk’ to the mat. It’s about excitement and entertainment if and when Brooks does actually enter the cage for real.

Yet another yawnfest from Pendred will leave no doubt that he’ll be dropped from consideration.

About The Author

Scott Zerr
Staff Writer

Scott joins The MMA Corner having spent the last 14 years in mixed martial arts as Director of Media & Fighter Relations for the Maximum Fighting Championship. He will provide The MMA Corner with insight on breaking news in the sport, plus an insider's perspective on business developments, matchmaking, fighter signings, and much more. In addition to his longtime work in MMA, Scott was a sports reporter before moving into media relations and marketing. After growing up and working in Edmonton, Alberta, Scott has since moved to Bakersfield, California to be with his wife Christina (an avid fight fan, thank goodness) and kids.