Joseph Duffy made a successful return to the cage on Saturday. | Jim Page/Sherdog.com
After a nearly three-year hiatus to pursue a professional boxing career, Joseph Duffy returned to MMA armed with a skilled set of hands as well as his usual dangerous submission game.
It was the latter that proved to be the difference on Saturday.
Duffy, the last man to defeat breakout UFC star Conor McGregor, submitted Damien Lapilus with a rear-naked choke 2:18 into the third round of the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship 70 lightweight headliner at the Helix in Dublin. Duffy had not set foot in the cage since suffering his first professional loss against Ivan Musardo at CWFC 44 on Oct. 1, 2011.
For two rounds, Duffy (11-1) relied on his hands, controlling the center of the cage while landing measured punching combinations and hooks to the body. Lapilus (9-4-1) shook off most of his opponent’s offerings, but other than the occasional leg kick, did little to make his mark on the fight.
With two rounds likely in the bank, Duffy changed course in the final frame. “Irish Joe” landed a takedown with about three minutes remaining and quickly demonstrated his submission savvy. The 26-year-old MMA Clinic representative moved to Lapilus’ back, trapped his foe’s left arm with his leg and sunk in the choke. Left with no means of defense, Lapilus quickly tapped out to give Duffy his eighth career submission triumph.
In the co-main event, Alexis Savvidis paid dearly for his decision to engage Paul Redmond in a game of dueling leg locks, tapping to a toe-hold from the Irish fighter 1:01 into the second frame of their lightweight bout. It was Redmond's seventh win in eight Cage Warriors appearances.
Buoyed by relentless forward movement, crisp boxing and heavy ground-and-pound, Redmond controlled the first round against his 19-year-old Greek adversary. Savvidis (8-2), meanwhile, offered plenty of creative attacks in return, though none were especially fruitful. The young fighter’s willingness to take risks eventually came back to haunt him.
With Redmond (10-4) on his back in round two, Savvidis initiated a leg lock attempt. However, Redmond quickly rolled in defense, and went belly-down on a toe-hold submission. His grip was tight, and after a few moments of resistance, Savvidis had no choice but to ask out of the fight.
After a shaky start, Artem Lobov left nothing to chance. Ireland’s “Prospect Killer” pounded out Andrew Fisher just before the third round of their featherweight clash expired, winning via technical knockout at the 4:59 mark.
Lobov (10-10) had to dig himself out of an early hole. Fisher (12-7-1) floored his foe with a head kick in the opening stanza and had Lobov reeling with a flurry of follow-up blows. With referee Marc Goddard looming, Lobov regained his bearings and survived the round.
From there, the SBG Ireland representative asserted himself through a steady diet of power punches. Although his tendency to over-commit gave Fisher opportunities for level changes, Lobov’s takedown defense proved solid. Lobov sealed the deal with the proper sense of urgency, landing a takedown of his own before finishing Fisher off with a furious final salvo.
Elsewhere, Karl Moore battered and bloodied Lloyd Clarkson en route to a lopsided verdict in a light heavyweight scrap. One cageside judge scored it 30-27 for Moore, while two others submitted 30-25 scorecards in favor of the Northern Ireland resident.
Moore (5-0) found consistent success rifling straight punches through Clarkson’s (8-8) guard. He diversified his attack with knees, elbows and uppercuts, continually keeping his English foe on the defensive. Clarkson proved to be durable enough, and was occasionally able to make things interesting by luring Moore into a brawl. For the most part, Moore controlled the tempo and avoided taking significant damage.
Paul Marin started with a flourish, then held off a hard-charging Andy Young down the stretch to capture a unanimous decision victory in a flyweight clash. All three cageside judges scored the bout 29-28 in favor of Marin (8-4).
The Romanian did his best work early, flooring Young twice in the first frame and once more in the opening moments of the second period. Young (6-6) stayed in the fight, and appeared to turn the tide late in the second, backing his man up against the fence with a barrage of punches. Young continued his assault in round three, landing multiple takedowns while avoiding Marin’s powerful counter right hand. It was not enough to sway the judges, however.
Dean Garnett earned Cage Warrior’s first $2,000 ”bounty bonus in the evening’s open main-card affair, as he submitted Martin Sheridan with an inverted heel hook 1:02 into their bantamweight clash.
After a brief feeling-out period on the feet, Garnett (7-0) closed the distance and landed a takedown on his taller foe less than a minute into the bout. From there, the Next Generation UK product transitioned to a leg lock. While Sheridan (7-6) displayed game defense initially, Garnett was ultimately able to secure the inverted heel hook to get the tapout.
In preliminary action: Peter Queally outpointed Konrad Iwanowski; Tommy McCafferty scored a technical knockout 56 seconds into the second frame against Dean Reilly; a barrage of punches and elbows from Ryan Roddy stopped Louis Chapman 2:03 into the opening frame; and Catherine Costigan tapped Noelia Molina with an armbar at the 2:14 mark of round one.