The big story of the moment is the UFC’s sudden and unexpected firing of Heavyweight stand-out Todd Duffee, who made headlines after knocking out Tim Hague in seven seconds at UFC 102 in August of 2009, but lost via knockout after dominating Mike Russow for three rounds at UFC 114 this past May.
Adding to the surprise of the announcement is the fact that Duffee was scheduled to fight Jon Madsen at UFC 121 in October until a recent injury forced him to withdraw from the bout.
No official reason has been given yet for his release, but Josh Gross stated on his Twitter feed last night that those close to the situation are keeping mum about it, with one source who almost always comments declining to make any comment on the situation.
While some have noted the UFC to have disputes with fighters in the past, particularly when Jon Fitch refused to sign over likeness rights two years ago resulting from his temporary release from his contract with the promotion, this situation is a bit different. Duffee is a legit threat at Heavyweight, and it’s unlikely that the UFC would essentially hand him over to Strikeforce over anything that could potentially be worked out.
Some have made note of a potential problem with Duffee’s attitude. I’m not sure what that’s alluding to specifically, but his behavior was a bit erratic and almost melancholy leading up to his fight with Russow at UFC 114. Despite having the promotion behind him and calling him a future prospect, Duffee told media outlets he was being “overhyped” and inferred that his seven second knockout of Tim Hague was a fluke.
Even stranger was his appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour. Duffee was cranky and acerbic with even the most basic questions, and at times seemed borderline (or outright) depressed. Helwani offered the excuse that Duffee might be a bit tired, but it was a strange appearance from a man who competes in a sport where confidence is the primary key to success.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding the situation, it’s my hope that Duffee gets his act together. He’s capable of great things at Heavyweight, whether it’s with the UFC, Strikeforce, or in Japan. We just have to convince him of that.