Three years ago UFC Heavyweight Todd Duffee was one of the most-hyped, most-feared, most talked about young fighters in MMA. His 7 second KO of Tim Hague at UFC 102 is still the fastest KO by a Heavyweight in UFC history. Unfortunately a brutal KO loss to Mike Russow a few months later, in a fight that Duffee had been utterly dominating until late in the third round and some unfortunate public remarks about the way the UFC treats its fighters and Duffee was given the boot by the biggest organization in MMA.
Thomas Gerbasi of UFC.com details Duffee's long hard wander in the wilderness away from the UFC:
What followed was a walk through the MMA wilderness of sorts for the Raleigh, Illinois product, as he moved from team to team, had difficulty finding fights, and dealt with more than his fair share of injuries.
During that time, he would only compete twice, getting knocked out by Alistair Overeem in a December 2010 bout that he took on a week's notice, and knocking out UFC vet Neil Grove in 34 seconds in April of this year.
The day after the Russow bout, Duffee's father was rushed to the hospital. He passed away two weeks later. Duffee would lose a good friend and a coach in rapid succession after that, just beginning his woes.
Because of an injury to Shane Carwin that pulled Matt Mitrione off the UFC 155 card, Duffee is getting his second chance with the organization against Philip De Fries on the Facebook undercard of the fight.
He says he's a changed man:
"When I first came to the UFC, I was very alone," he said. "I couldn't trust anybody, and I didn't, and it affected my personality to a large degree. So I've learned how to present myself as who I am. I wasn't aware of how people perceived me because I'm from a small town where everybody knows me. They know I'm this regular, nice guy. I'm not this robot killing machine or this arrogant jock a**hole. If you look at a picture of me, those are the two things that you perceive. So I've learned to present myself a lot better, but the biggest thing for me is that I walked into this thing alone and feeling very alone, and now I know I'm not alone. Instead of getting so much hate this time around, I've gotten a lot of positive energy, and that feels good and it makes it easier to give it back."
Duffee is training at the American Kickboxing Academy for this fight with some of the best heavies in the game including title challenger Cain Velasquez and Strikeforce tournament champ Daniel Cormier.