Todd Duffee went from being one of the most hyped heavyweights in the UFC to a footnote in under a year, blowing a near guaranteed win against Mike Russow before being turfed from the UFC over vague ‘attitude’ issues. When he first came back into the Zuffa fold he seemed kinda reticent to talk about his time away, but now he has opened up on how shitty it was being stuck in neutral:
“It was a nightmare every day. It was sickening. It was very depressing. It was a giant … oh, I need to find new terminology to describe this. It was a giant mind-f—. I don’t know how else to put it. You see guys that you’re better than fighting in the UFC, you see guys you’re friends and training partners are saying you’re better than fighting in the UFC. I felt really stupid. I genuinely just felt like an idiot. Everybody was telling me I had all this talent but I was never going to be back in the UFC, it’s over. Obviously, I couldn’t let it go. I still believed I had a shot. I still knew how good I am. I’m extensively training with seven of the top 10 guys right now. I have a pretty good idea of where I stand. And I don’t think I’d continue to be willing to make the sacrifices if I didn’t believe I have what it takes to be one of the best. If not the best. It was terrible, dude. It hurt my career. You want to talk about a bad attitude? I definitely developed a bad attitude during that time period. For about nine months, a year, I was hard to be around. I felt bad for the guys at Grudge. I wasn’t positive. I was just grinding through my workouts. There was one point where I would drive to AKA, check my bank account and I would just walk in the gym with tears in my eyes. DC [Daniel Cormier] would come up to me, “Are you alright, dude?” This was because I felt like such an idiot. I should’ve been out getting my college education, going to work. All my friends are finishing up their doctorates — they’re doing all this great stuff that I should be doing. Instead, I’m out here being dumb. Has it paid off now? Yes. I could’ve approached it a lot differently and maybe I’d still be in the same spot. You don’t know. I could’ve gotten here sooner, for all we know. I guess the best way to describe it was that I felt really stupid.”
With his only post-return win being against UFC punching bag Phil De Fries, it’s too early to say if the Duff frate train is gonna barrel on down the tracks. But while being big isn’t everything in the heavyweight division, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Duffee has all the tools to make a mark in the league, or at the very least occupy that cushy gatekeeper spot left vacant by the totally not fired Cheick Kongo.