Second on the card at UFC 181: Hendricks vs Lawler 2 in Las Vegas, Nevada, a fist-flying heavyweight showdown with a high probability of ending in a knockout, as the returning Todd Duffee takes on Anthony Hamilton.
Who They Are
Todd Duffee is 8-2 overall, with 8 KO victories, and is 2-1 in the UFC.He is coming off a knockout win over Phil De Fries
Hamilton is 13-3, with 6 knockouts and 1 submission, and is 1-1 in the UFC. He is coming off a knockout win over Ruan Potts.
3 Things You Should Know
1. Todd Duffee has only had three fights in the UFC
He really has. Duffee has carved an extremely strange path through mixed martial arts. He exploded on the scene in 2009 with a 7 second stoppage of Tim Hague, announcing himself as a thrilling young prospect with a He-man physique who was poised for big things. However, nothing has ever gone quite right for Duffee. He was knocked out (in one of the most physically implausible-looking comebacks ever seen in the sport) by Mike Russow and then... bounced from the UFC.
The exact reasons why have always been murky. There was something about injuries, and pay, and Duffee accepting a role in the clunker movie "Never Back Down 2", and attitude, but the reasons disclosed to the public never quite added up to the sum of their parts. Even if 2009 was the UFC's brightest time for exciting and relevant heavyweight action, good heavies were still not so thick on the ground that Zuffa would kick a prospect like Duffee to the curb for such minor reasons.
Duffee kind of floated around. He took a disastrous DREAM title fight against Alistair Overeem, where rumours swirled that he had not trained at all, and was blown away in seconds. He traveled around to different gyms (ATT, XTreme Couture, Grudge and AKA). He went on testosterone replacement therapy at the age of 24. Even back when he had knocked out Tim Hague, he famously referred to himself as "overhyped." It all paints an image of a troubled if gifted young man.
He made a triumphant return to the UFC in 2012. Life was not done throwing curveballs at Duffee though, as he's been struggling with a rare neurological disorder called Parsonage-Turner syndrome since then.
2. Can Anthony Hamilton stop Duffee's second comeback?
Assuming Duffee comes in remotely mentally and physically prepared, it is very unlikely. Hamilton packs reasonable power and speed for a heavyweight, but he should be outclassed by Duffee in these areas. Fundamentally, "Freight Train" is a jack of all trades who can select the correct tools to exploit the gaping flaws in most opponents' approaches, and can provide enough variety to keep them on the back foot. He has a solid takedown and guard pass game, powerful if clunky striking, and has enough athleticism to occasionally pull out surprising attacks like a head kick.
However, he doesn't do any of these things well enough to get past the specialists of the division, those who have developed and prioritized a particular skillset like Soa Palelei or, as he discovered in his last fight, Oleksiy Oliynyk. Lastly, he has the classic heavyweight gas tank. While he carries his power late, his output planes off dramatically after a few short minutes.
3. Duffee's capabilities remain something of a question mark
Duffee functions as a kind of poor man's Junior Dos Santos, with the same focus on utilizing speed and athleticism to land the right hand and avoid takedowns. He is more defensively porous and less powerful than the Brazilian, but he still should be able to run rings around Hamilton. He's also shown that he can fight at least two solid rounds, which leaves him with a gas tank which lasts approximately seven to eight minutes longer than his opponent's.
However, Duffee has been away for an awfully long time, and ring rust and his mental and physical state remain constant X-factors. In his last fight against Philip De Fries, Duffee was not looking particularly good against the Englishman early on. He then seemed to wake up to the fact that he was athletically parsecs beyond his opponent, and summarily put De Fries away. He has settled down at Liborio's Home for Lost Boys (otherwise known as "American Top Team") which seems a solid fit for him, as it has proven excellent at providing a sense of direction to some of MMA's more nomadic figures, including Robbie Lawler who fights in the main event. All this is fairly ironic, as ATT was where Duffee began his UFC career.
Time is a flat circle.
Todd Duffee by TKO, round 2