It wasn’t too long ago that Todd Duffee was MMA’s flavor of the month. While some were ready to feed him to heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar following his “record-setting” seven second knockout of Tim Hague at UFC 102, others remained skeptical of his 6-0 resume.
“Fifty percent of the fans hate you, and 50 percent of the fans think you’re great,” Duffee told MMAJunkie.com. “Either/or – it doesn’t really matter unless you’re winning.”
Compounding matters is the fact the division’s complexion has completely changed during Duffee’s absence. Lesnar got a new lease on life, Shane Carwin was anointed interim heavyweight champ and two legitimate contenders emerged in Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
Because of his sabbatical, Duffee is eager to prove he belongs in the same sentence as the aforementioned studs. However, the youngster realizes ring-rust is a serious concern and will look to pace himself against Mike Russow this Saturday at UFC 114.
“I haven’t fought in eight months,” Duffee said. “And really, if you ask me, I haven’t fought in a year and eight months. So I have to go out there and make sure I’m breathing.
“I have to be able to do what I do in the gym out in the cage when the lights are on. There are a lot of guys that we’ve probably never heard of who are at that level, but they just can’t perform when it comes time, and I have to make sure that I continue to do that.”
The 24-year-old doesn’t mind if fans consider him overrated or underrated because he too believes it’s premature at this stage of his young career. One thing is for sure, finishing fights in knockout fashion will quickly catapult you up the ladder – doing it in your first seven professional fights is an entirely different story.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about winning. People can say whatever they want, I can’t control that,” Duffee said. “So I just have to go out there and win.”