Fans of European MMA will have been overjoyed this week to hear the news that Tom Duquesnoy is set to put pen to paper and join the ranks of the UFC in the coming days.
One of the worst-kept secrets in MMA, the 23-year-old Frenchman has been at the top of pundits’ prospect lists for several years. Already a double world champion in the BAMMA organisation, and training with the murderer’s row of top fighters in Jackson/Wink MMA in Albuquerque, Duquesnoy would appear to have all of the attributes to become the next big thing in the UFC.
The burning question now is, how does the UFC introduce him to the world?
The first fight of a prospect’s career can set the tone for the rest of their UFC tenure. For example, Conor McGregor and Cody Garbrandt both announced their arrival onto the big stage by clobbering poor Marcus Brimage in impressive fashion, and have gone on to achieve championship glory.
Unfortunately for Duquesnoy, Brimage is no longer available to offer up his chin to budding contenders, but here are three other options that would make ideal opponents for his maiden fight.
Last seen in the Octagon filling the role of punching bag for Urijah Faber’s retirement fight, ‘One Punch’ is nearing the end of his own career in the cage. The gritty Londoner has stated that he wishes to retire in his hometown, which is hosting a Fight Night event on March 17th.
This would be an ideal stage for Duquesnoy to announce himself to the world. A bout with Pickett would provide an entertaining stand up scrap, which would allow the Frenchman to showcase the finely honed striking skills which have earned him two BAMMA titles. While the experience gap would be enormous, Duquesnoy would appear to have enough of an advantage in athleticism to render this irrelevant.
Given Pickett’s combination of indomitable will and rapidly declining physicality, the bout would be a stern but extremely winnable debut. Pickett’s name value and the fact that it would be his UFC swansong would serve to bring additional spotlight and fan interest to the bout, providing the most visible possible platform for Fire Kid’s first fight under the UFC banner.
This is a bout that would guarantee fireworks. Henry Briones has the distinction of being one of only two men to go the distance with new bantamweight champion, Cody Garbarandt, the other of course being Dominick Cruz.
— UFC France (@UFC_France) November 7, 2016
Briones is a brawler, a straightforward boxer with good power in his hands and a chin like a brick wall. In his last fight, against Douglas Silva de Andrade on the undercard of Dos Anjos vs Ferguson in Mexico City, Briones ate flush blows that would have knocked most men stiff, while marching forward and throwing hands all the time.
His aggressive striking style and rock hard head would draw out Duquesnoy’s deep arsenal of impressive strikes, forcing him to showcase his entire skillset to put the Mexican away, and proving to the UFC faithful that he is the real deal.
Coming off of three straight losses, ‘Cisco’ would appear to be on his way out as a UFC fighter. However, his exciting style and massive power for the weight class should ensure him one more chance to save his job, so why not have it against Duquesnoy?
Rivera is a hyper aggressive puncher, who seeks to take his opponents head off with every blow. Duquesnoy is no shrinking violet himself, so a bout between these two would be a likely candidate for Fight of the Night honours on any card.
Rivera tends to be a very effective fighter in the early portions of his fights, but his suspect cardio pulls him down as the fight goes on. It would be an interesting test to see if Duquesnoy can weather the early storm and take advantage of the cardio and grappling deficiencies of Rivera in the later rounds. Is he just a flat track bully who was blowing lesser fighters out of the water on the regional scene, or can he step up to the plate against a proven veteran and gut it out?