Duffee on Fast Track, White Believes

By Mike Whitman Sep 1, 2009
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Todd Duffee walked into the Octagon for the first time as one of the sport’s hottest prospects. He walked out a UFC record holder.

In the third fight on the UFC 102 “Couture vs. Nogueira” undercard, Duffee crushed Tim Hague with a stunning seven-second knockout, as he set a new mark for the fastest KO in promotional history. Nearly the instant the fight began, Duffee dropped Hague with a stiff left jab, followed up with heavy shots, relieved Hague of his senses and ended a near year-long hiatus from competition.

“I expected a three-round war. I wouldn’t say it’s unfulfilling, because it gave me an opportunity to get ‘KO of the Night,’ which would have been a complete life-changer for me,” Duffee said. “Tim’s a tough opponent. I’d like to see him back out there. It’s been a year since I last fought. I’d like to get out there again soon to find out how much I’ve developed. I want to be a better martial artist everyday.”

Despite such a long break between fights, Duffee showed no signs of ring rust and was so eager to begin the match that he shunned Hague’s invitation to touch gloves before the bout began.

“No disrespect to Tim, but I felt like I was better in every aspect. I knew I was a better athlete. That’s not me trying to be arrogant, but there’s maybe three or four guys out there that are as athletic as I am,” Duffee said. “This week has been the least-stressful week of my last year -- no question. Finally getting to walk out there, it was probably the most calming feeling ever.”

Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Todd Duffee stopped Tim Hague
in just seven seconds at UFC 102.
Though the American Top Team product did not earn “Knockout of the Night” honors -- they went to middleweight contender Nate Marquardt -- he remains one of MMA’s most exciting young talents. He has a plethora of natural tools at his disposal, which, when coupled with some experience, could pose a serious threat to the UFC’s heavyweight division. In his last outing before entering the UFC, he dominated Pride Fighting Championships and UFC veteran Assuerio Silva at Jungle Fight 11 en route to a second-round stoppage victory. At 6-foot-3, 260 pounds and sporting a physique that would make Charles Atlas blush, no one doubts the 23-year-old’s potential. The real question surrounding Duffee’s career is simple: with only five fights under his belt, has he proven himself ready for prime time?

“[The quick KO] is a little bittersweet, but I think it’s going to probably build the hype. People who really know the sport are going to say, ‘We still need to see him.’ It’s sickening for me to hear that,” Duffee said. “I want to prove myself bad. At this point in my career, I feel like I should already have had 10 or 15 high-level fights, and I would like a chance to prove that.”

UFC President Dana White agrees with the heavyweight. When asked at the post-fight press conference what his plans were for the young lion from ATT, White did not dance around the question.

“[Duffee] came up to me in the back and said, ‘I want to fight again. I want to fight soon.’ I know I have managers and everything else [to deal with before making a fight], but I want to get him in there as soon as possible,” White said. “I want to fast-track him. I want him to fight good guys right now. This kid is fired up, and I like that.”

Exactly what that means could be up for debate. There are plenty of intriguing matchups for Duffee in the UFC’s deep and ever-growing heavyweight pool, but will White and matchmaker Joe Silva follow through and throw Duffee into the frying pan against legitimate contenders? That query notwithstanding, the young heavyweight can take some short-term encouragement in his record-setting knockout.
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