Todd Duffee's expulsion from the UFC remains one of the most confusing things we've seen in the UFC over the last few years.
The heavyweight division has always been shorter on talent than most would like. Because of that, it's hard not to get excited when a fighter has a UFC debut as explosive as Duffee, who knocked out Tim Hague in seven seconds at UFC 102. When he was shockingly knocked out by Mike Russow, though, he found himself unceremoniously and mysteriously cut from the UFC.
The reasons remain unknown. Putting the pieces together from interviews and statements from both the UFC and Duffee himself yields no clear picture on what happened.
Immediately after leaving the UFC, Duffee was a straw man for Alistair Overeem to push over at Dynamite!! 2010 before receiving the Dream heavyweight belt. This was followed by a knee injury that would keep him out for the entirety of 2011. Duffee then returned to MMA by punching out Bellator mainstay Neil Grove in April. This was enough to entice the UFC into offering him another fight.
Duffee made the most of this opportunity on Sunday, knocking out Phil de Fries in about two minutes and letting the whole world know once again that he was a heavyweight to be reckoned with. So, what could next be on his docket?
Well, the heavyweight division is undeniably needing an injection of younger talent. It has plenty of established fighters, but with the exception of Travis Browne, there are essentially no up-and-coming fighters to be had.
With that in mind, Duffee is a fighter that, right or wrong, needs to be handled delicately and allowed to mature in the same way Jon Jones was in 2010. There are several fighters that are easy enough to beat for Duffee, but hard enough that he will be afforded the opportunity to grow.
Dave Herman, Brendan Schaub, Ben Rothwell, Shawn Jordan and Mike Russow are all the sorts of fighters that Duffee could end up against. Skilled? Yes. Very skilled? No.
Training with the American Kickboxing Academy, home to Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier and Lavar Johnson, Duffee has a team that he can really start growing with. Between Cormier, Velasquez, Jon Fitch and Gray Maynard, Duffee can advance his grappling skills while honing that amazing knockout power. He is, right now, in an excellent position to succeed.
So, simply, what's next for Todd Duffee?
Probably some great knockouts and big wins. There's a lot to be excited for with him.
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