Todd Duffee (4-0) has seen his name mentioned on MMA blogs and news sites all over the internet recently. It was his victory over Assuerio Silva last September that really began to earn this heavyweight prospect the attention of promoters across the country. Todd (23 years old) combines heavy hands with a tenacity to finish fights that will be a welcome addition to a division that sometimes lacks it. He has yet to be tested beyond the second round. Recently it was reported that Todd was scheduled to make his UFC debut next month in Germany against British heavyweight Mustapha Al-Turk (6-4). However, rumors have begun circulating that it might be Mirko "CroCop" Filipovic that will now be facing Al-Turk at that event. So where does that leave one of the fastest rising young American heavyweight prospects? MMAForReal.com caught up with this exciting young fighter to find out more about the man that UFC fans may soon be talking about.
Rich Wyatt: Todd, tell us a little about your background and how you got into MMA.
Todd Duffee: I grew up in southern Illinois and basically played every sport out there: Track, Baseball, Basketball, Football, you name it. I was a year round athlete growing up. I got introduced to boxing at a local gym when I was 16, but because of other sports I didn't have as much time to devote to it. After high school I signed on to play college football but an injury derailed my football career. Shortly after that my mom got a job transfer to Atlanta and I got in-state tuition so I moved to Georgia and began to attend UGA. Once I moved to Atlanta at 18, I ended up at a real boxing gym. I trained there for awhile but after seeing a UFC event I started looking for a MMA gym and found one. After spending about a year there I eventually ended up here at Hardcore Gym in Athens.
Rich Wyatt: You're currently a student at The University of Georgia. What's it like trying to balance your fighting career with schoolwork?
Todd Duffee: I have two online classes that I'm currently working on. I hope to finish those soon. I'm setting school aside for awhile after that to pursue my fighting career. Trying to balance fighting and schoolwork was too much so I'm doing the online classes now. I travel back and forth between American Top Team in Florida and Hardcore Gym in Georgia so it's tough to focus on just being a student.
Rich Wyatt: What do you see as your strengths as a fighter?
Todd Duffee: Definitely my work ethic. As far as fight strategy goes, I feel comfortable wherever the fight goes. I think the age of guys being one-dimensional is pretty much done. I don't panic if I'm in guard or in half-guard, in the clinch or striking. I want to be winning wherever I'm at. I want to push the pace. I don't consider myself as a striker or a grappler; Just a fighter.
Rich Wyatt: It was recently reported that you have signed with Zuffa to compete in the UFC. However, with Cro Crop supposedly back in the fold, it appears that he might have taken your spot on the card in Germany next month. Any idea when you may next be booked for a fight?
Todd Duffee: As far as I'm concerned I'm still scheduled to fight on the card in Germany. I'm still in preparation for this June 13th fight against Mustapha.
Rich Wyatt: You really began to make waves as a dangerous prospect after your dominating win over Pride and UFC veteran Assuerio Silva. What was it like fighting down in Brazil against a hometown fighter?
Todd Duffee: It was everything that you would expect. It was a great experience but you could definitely tell that I wasn't the hometown guy. They didn't roll out the red carpet for me or anything. You could tell that I was fighting the hometown hero. Let's just say that I didn't get picked up at the airport (laughs).
Rich Wyatt: You knocked Assuerio out early into the second round. That marked the first time that you had been taken out of the first round as a pro. To what do you attribute this ability to put your opponents away so quickly?
Todd Duffee: Pace. The pacing that I set. Honestly, I went into the Silva fight expecting it to be a three round war. Very few guys had ever finished him and I knew that he was a veteran with a lot of experience. I had intentions of pushing the pace from the outset. I knew that I probably needed to finish the fight but I won't say that I expected to. Typically in a heavyweight fight somebody goes down so I wasn't shocked that it didn't go the distance. I always go in there to finish my opponent. I still continue to learn more about myself as a fighter every time out.
Rich Wyatt: How did you get hooked up with the guys down at American Top Team in Florida?
Todd Duffee: The place that I train in Georgia, Hardcore Gym, is affiliated with American Top Team so I spend time at both locations.
Rich Wyatt: I'm sure you have access to some of the best training and facilities at American Top Team. Who are some of the guys that you get to train and spar with occasionally?
Todd Duffee: Guys like Thiago Silva, Carmelo Marrero, Marcelo Oliveira and Antonia Silva have helped me out immensely. They have all definitely improved my game and helped to correct a lot of things for me. Cole and Micah Miller have also added some helpful insight to my game as a fighter that I am very grateful for.
Rich Wyatt: What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your interests outside of the sport of MMA?
Todd Duffee: I don't have any real interests right now other than my family, of course, and MMA. I'm quite boring. That isn't to say that I don't enjoy life when I get a chance. Anything involving adventure, traveling and friends interests me but I am too focused on my career right now to even think about those things. My family is always number one for me, though.
Rich Wyatt: Are there any UFC heavyweights in particular that you'd like to fight?
Todd Duffee: Cheick Kongo is one. I think that if I win some more fights Heath Herring also looks like a good matchup for a very exciting fight. Plus, I grew up watching him and have a ton of respect for him.
Rich Wyatt: Who do you think wins the Brock Lesnar-Frank Mir fight and why?
Todd Duffee: I honestly don't know. It could go either way. You're going to see a different Brock every time that he shows up. He is learning so much at such a fast pace. With Mir, he can beat you anywhere so it's a very interesting matchup. I think it will come down to who is "on" that night.
Rich Wyatt: Any parting thoughts or anyone that you'd like to thank?
Todd Duffee: I'd like to thank my family for supporting me and No Decision Apparel and all of my sponsors.
MMAForReal.com thanks Todd Duffee for taking the time to speak with us and we wish him the best in his upcoming fights.