Now training at ‘elite’ TriStar gym, Joseph Duffy feels ready to take on the world

It took something special for lightweight Joseph Duffy to decide to leave Ireland and train full-time in Montreal.

Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Irish lightweight contender Joseph Duffy has enjoyed his time training at Montreal’s TriStar gym under Firas Zahabi so much, that he recently told us he plans to relocate to Quebec after his fight this Saturday against Dustin Poirier. He isn’t alone.

For years, fighters from not just across Canada, but all over the world have decided it was well worth their while to pack their bags (filled with warm clothing, presumably) and train with the likes of former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and his head coach Zahabi. Heck, rookie sensation and teen heartthrob Sage Northcutt even left warm Texas for a bit to give the gym a try and to conduct a front-flip seminar, recently.

Zahabi credits the familial atmosphere and positive attitudes at his gym for attracting the likes of "Irish Joe." "We’ve got a great group of people, all with positive attitudes. I always say that the cost of admission at TriStar is a good attitude," he told FOX Sports.

"We train people of all levels. It isn’t just a bunch of elite athletes. We have a family atmosphere and a great coaching staff who is there all day, and who show up every practice. I’m there every single day, teaching classes. Me and the staff of coaches genuinely care about helping the team."

When we asked Duffy himself what convinced him to make the move to TriStar, he echoed some of those same values. "I’ve definitely trained at a few different gyms now, and you learn something from them all. I feel you can learn from everybody. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had great people around me to learn from," he told us.

"And then I came here [to TriStar] and it’s like icing on the cake. They are at an elite level in all areas of the game. I’ve got guys around me who know what they are talking about. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the people are all hard-working. They come here to do the work and are always pushing themselves. We’re all here because we want to be here, so everyone pushes themselves."

That strong work ethic gym culture appeals to a guy like Duffy, who has big goals for himself. He’ll headline a UFC event for the first time this Saturday, and in his native Ireland, no less.

He feels as ready as he can be, and looks forward to a victory and then moving up into title contention, afterwards. With all his preparation, Duffy now simply has a sense of destiny when it comes to believing that he’ll beat Dustin Poirier in Dublin.

"I wouldn’t say one thing in particular stands out for me. I just feel that this is my time," he explained.

"I just feel that I can win this."

Obviously, his coach Zahabi agrees. As far as he’s concerned, Duffy has that championship stuff inside him.

"I don’t set a limit on my guys. For me, they can all become world champs," he says.

"If you put in the work, it fosters an environment where you can use your talent to be the best. Joe believes that he can be the best, and I think the world will see that, October 24."