In the lone heavyweight bout on the UFC 114 event card, Chicago-native and long-time MMA veteran Mike Russow (12-1, 1-0 UFC) will look to continue his eight-fight win streak as he battles undefeated prospect Todd Duffee (6-0, 1-0 UFC). Russow is coming off a debut victory over Justin McCully at UFC 102 while Duffee's debut resulted in the quickest recorded knockout in UFC history at only 0:07 seconds at UFC 102 against Tim Hague.
There has been some interesting talk from Todd Duffee in the lead-up to this fight, and it's definitely intriguing to see a fighter who realizes that he's being hyped considerably for a seven second knockout. He's talked in length about the dichotomy among fans in loving and hating fighters, but he's also been very honest in his approach to battling a veteran like Mike Russow.
Duffee is accurate in his thoughts regarding Russow's abilities and how he's able to win fights. A career part-time fighter who is also a part-time Chicago police officer, Russow hasn't strayed from what he knows will get him the win, but he's been surprisingly much more effective than your standard "lay and pray" fighter. Eight of his twelve wins have come by way of submission, and that should be something that Duffee will be thinking about when he begins to formulate ways to beat Russow.
Unfortunately, many of the fans, even some in our own community, still stick to the classic reasoning that Duffee looks like a ripped Muscle & Fitness model and Russow sags with fat on his body. Interestingly enough, Russow used to look a bit more shredded two or three years ago, but there hasn't been a noticeable difference in the way he wins. He's a wrestler first, and his abilities from top control can be a challenge for his opponents to escape. His level of conditioning does seem to be lacking with the extra pounds, but those pounds ultimately allow him to take on the bigger, beefier fighters in today's UFC. His gas tank will need to improve, and his strength training will probably need to be ramped up if he intends to be a real contender.
Duffee is obviously going to be the better boxer in this showdown, and his power and strength are his means to ending Russow's night quickly. All of his wins have come via TKO with only former UFC fighter Assuerio Silva lasting until the second round before succumbing. Looking at the list of opponents Duffee has defeated, it's easy to see that Russow is probably his toughest test to date. Silva is definitely a solid grappler, but he spent much of his career trying to trade with guys rather than using his size to gain control and submit opponents.
Duffee should be able to neutralize Russow's attempts to take him down, and Russow will have to stand the test of Duffee's power for a round before I can truly believe he has a chance at controlling the youthful prospect on the ground. As this fight drags on, I think Russow has the advantage on the floor, but he'll more than likely be fighting the battle of attrition as well. A more in-shape Russow would be nice to see, but he still has the skills to bring Duffee back down to Earth in fans' minds.
I'll ride the wave of hype surrounding Duffee for this fight, but it could definitely be derailed on Saturday. Russow is being a bit underrated by fans simply due to his physique and style of fighting. I'll probably throw the money down on Russow at +210-215, but I'll go ahead and pick Duffee to win.