Ed Kapp from AboveAndBeyondMMA.com recently caught up with Todd Duffee to discuss what it is like inside and outside the UFC.
Ed Kapp: How did it feel to be on the outside looking in?
Todd Duffee: It was a nightmare every day. It was sickening. It was very depressing. It was a giant Ö oh, I need to find new terminology to describe this. It was a giant mind-f---. I donít know how else to put it. You see guys that youíre better than fighting in the UFC, you see guys youíre friends and training partners are saying youíre better than fighting in the UFC. I felt really stupid. I genuinely just felt like an idiot. Everybody was telling me I had all this talent but I was never going to be back in the UFC, itís over. Obviously, I couldnít let it go. I still believed I had a shot. I still knew how good I am. Iím extensively training with seven of the top 10 guys right now. I have a pretty good idea of where I stand. And I donít think Iíd continue to be willing to make the sacrifices if I didnít believe I have what it takes to be one of the best. If not the best. It was terrible, dude. It hurt my career. You want to talk about a bad attitude? I definitely developed a bad attitude during that time period. For about nine months, a year, I was hard to be around. I felt bad for the guys at Grudge. I wasnít positive. I was just grinding through my workouts. There was one point where I would drive to AKA, check my bank account and I would just walk in the gym with tears in my eyes. DC [Daniel Cormier] would come up to me, ďAre you alright, dude?Ē This was because I felt like such an idiot. I shouldíve been out getting my college education, going to work. All my friends are finishing up their doctorates ó theyíre doing all this great stuff that I should be doing. Instead, Iím out here being dumb. Has it paid off now? Yes. I couldíve approached it a lot differently and maybe Iíd still be in the same spot. You donít know. I couldíve gotten here sooner, for all we know. I guess the best way to describe it was that I felt really stupid.
EK: Is it possible to make a comfortable living in MMA outside of the UFC?
TD: If you have a good manager Ö I was having a lot of problems. Even the smaller promotions would literally write me off before they had a phone conversation with me. They would say, ďOh, heís got a bad attitude,Ē or, ďOh, heís going to want too much money.Ē The consistency outside of the UFC is a nightmare. You know that as well as anybody. I wouldnít say itís impossible, but itís not easy. Itís not ideal [laughs]. There are a few ó some of these guys in Bellator, some of these guys in One FC ó who can. But the landscape outside of the UFC has changed drastically. Itís tough out there for those guys. I feel bad for them. I can relate to them 100 per cent. Itís very stressful [laughs].
EK: How did you learn that the UFC wanted to bring you back into the fold?
TD: I was bugging Joe Silva. I got lucky. I called Joe Silva the night before, because I was getting ready to sign a kickboxing contract. I said, ďHey, man, is there anything we can do?Ē And heís like, ďWell, I tried calling you for the [Gabriel] Gonzaga fight but you changed your number.Ē [Laughs] I was like, ďReally?! Awesome. Thatís terrible!Ē But he said there was a chance something might come up and he would give me a call tomorrow and let me know. Bob Cook had already had a deal with an old training partner of mine. But he was not able to get out of his Bellator contract in time, so he couldnít sign with the UFC. So Bob was able to work me in and get the deal. Thatís how I learned. I literally had my apartment packed, I was showing my friend my apartment and Bob is calling me, but Iím not answering it. I was too depressed. I was packing myself up and moving to go live in Holland [laughs]. I was going to work my kickboxing. I was going to work on my kickboxing and travel that route. Because that was where the financials were at the time.
EK: What do you think you could do in the world of kickboxing?
TD: Knock out a lot of people and get knocked out a lot.
EK: Itís that simple?
TD: Thatís the sport, man. You know it as well as I do. In K-1, the greatest guys in the world have been knocked out 20 times a piece [laughs]. Thatís just the game. I think, with my style, it would equate to that [laughs].
EK: In retrospect, what was at stake in your return to the UFC at 155?
TD: The rumour was that I was going to get cut again if I didnít win [laughs], but I donít know that. I heard that from a few people inside. But my whole life was ó everything Iíve ever worked for was at stake. Everything Iíve ever committed to. In the end, most guys walk away from this sport a failure. Itís just the sad truth. Itís the sad reality of being a fighter. Youíre going to have to carry that with you your entire life. Itís how you respond to that that doesnít make you the actual failure. I would say my entire life. If I wouldíve lost that fight, chances are I wouldíve gotten cut ó that wouldíve technically been my second loss in a row in the UFC. Iíd probably be looking at a kickboxing contract or going back to school. But everything Iíve ever worked for was at stake. But I think thatís every fight. That situation is not much different than what most guys have to live through, you know?
EK: Ideally, when would you like to return to action?
TD: Maybe this summer. That would be ideal. It looks like Iíve had a bit of a set-back in my rehab, so weíre probably looking at September, October.
EK: What does the future hold for Todd Duffee?
TD: Iím a wildcard, man. Thatís what everybody tells me. It could be a disaster or it could be the greatest thing in the world. Iíd like to think that Iím going to hit great. I know that Iím doing everything I can to be there. I think the future holds consistent fights and weíll see. Iím in a weird spot right now. At one point, I was a huge top prospect, but I havenít fought consistently enough to maintain that. Weíll see.