"Athletically, I’m pretty much where I’m gonna be — I’m 24, I’m probably in the prime physical peak of my life — it’s the mental side of the game that I really have to develop and work on."
So says Todd Duffee (6-0), the impressive-looking heavyweight prospect who has acquired just seven seconds of professional MMA experience since 2008. Duffee’s blitz of Tim Hague at UFC 102 caught the attention of the MMA world, but his momentum was doused due to a back injury suffered in November. Now, the Xtreme Couture member is set to make his long-awaited Octagon return on the main card of UFC 114 against Mike Russow (12-1, 1 no-contest).
Both guys are known as finishers: Duffee has defeated all of his opponents by KO/TKO, with just one fight making it out of the first round. Russow’s unanimous decision win against Justin McCully at UFC 102 broke a seven-fight streak of stoppage victories, all of which came in the first two rounds. And yet, all of the heat is on the side of the 24-year-old. As he told UFC.com: “Here we have one of the most over-hyped fighters going against one of the most underrated in the heavyweight division. I am highly hyped. Am I overrated? I don’t think so. But I’ve been over-hyped by that seven-second knockout."
We’re about to find out if the Duffee-hype is justified. Russow will be an incredibly tough opponent, and a noticeable step up in competition. But if Duffee juggernauts his way through him, will anybody be that surprised?