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Todd Duffee talks re-upping his UFC contract despite pay-to-play realities

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Once one of MMA’s fastest rising young heavyweights, Todd Duffee has hit a bit of a rough patch, but he’s fighting again soon and with a new UFC contract.

UFC Fight Night: Mir v Duffee Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

With free agency being the choice du jour in today’s MMA marketplace, it’s becoming a bit more interesting to hear about the fighters who don’t choose to test it. Especially when, like Todd Duffee, their experience in the UFC has been less about making money than it has been about spending it.

Duffee recently spoke to ESPN.com about his new 4-fight contract that he just signed with the promotion. He had one fight left on his old deal, but chose to renegotiate rather than testing the open market. A slightly surprising move considering money he’s been making so far.

"Business-wise, you're paying to play at that point," Duffee said. "I was making [$12,000 to show, $12,000 to win]. You've got to take time off work to focus on the task at hand, because you're going to fight another man in a cage. You're not going to take that lightly. You're not going to play with that. That could have long-term effects on your life.

"So you have to take time off work, and you're paying to play. The heavyweight division is a gamble, right? There's no question about it. You don't see heavyweights rattling off huge win streaks.

"If you come out [with a loss], you just took two or three months off work, and you might get paid $8,000. If you come out a winner, you might get $16,000. And what that takes away from your family, work, life -- it's a big undertaking. I didn't feel good about it."

With that kind of math to do, Duffee hasn’t stepped back in the cage since his July 2015 KO loss to Frank Mir. Duffee described the loss as “demoralizing,” and that he felt his career may have been over.

But, his new contract will give him an immediate bump up in fight purse, and it sounds like Duffee doesn’t really see anywhere else he wants to be. Especially nowhere else that provides the same structure as the UFC.

“And this might sound crazy, but USADA [United States Anti-Doping Agency, the UFC's anti-doping program partner] -- you don't have that anywhere else,” Duffee said when describing why he decided to re-sign. “This is a real league. Top to bottom, it's an organization that makes things easy. They took great care of me after my fight with Mir."

Duffee is set to return to the cage on March 4th at UFC 209. He’ll be facing British Muay Thai stylist Mark Godbeer. And while his career is already almost a decade old, the 31-year-old is still a relative youngster in the division. Maybe Duffee’s run in the division starts in 2017.