After more than two and a half years away from the UFC, Todd Duffee was relieved to get back in the Octagon and score a win Dec. 29 at UFC 155.
The 27-year-old heavyweight stopped Philip De Fries with punches 2:04 into the first round.
“It’s a big relief,” Duffee told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “I can actually kind of relax for the fact that all I have to worry about now is training and fighting. I don’t have to be sitting on the phone trying to figure out when can I get a fight.”
Duffee debuted in the UFC with a seven-second knockout of Tim Hague in August 2009. However, he was released after a loss to Mike Russow and struggled to get fights outside of the promotion.
“The big thing, I think, [about] this time away was it hurt my development,” Duffee said. “I think I could have improved a lot more in the last two years had I not been dealing with some of the situations I had.”
Duffee was 1-1 in his time outside of the UFC, losing via knockout to Alistair Overeem before stopping Neil Grove. His inability to stay active caused him to consider retirement.
“I was at the point financially that the efforts I was putting in, it wasn’t paying off,” Duffee said. “It didn’t make a lot of sense. You start feeling stupid after a certain amount of time, like how delusional am I? But it did pay off, and I’m excited that I’ve got things back on track.”
Not only is Duffee back in the UFC, he has settled at one of the premier training camps in MMA: American Kickboxing Academy. There, he trains alongside UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and also Daniel Cormier, among others.
“I think wrestling’s a huge part of the sport, and that’s what I’ve always kind of been chasing, to get that kind of training, and I’m getting it,” Duffee said. “Obviously [AKA] is going to help me there. It’s going to help me everywhere. It’s a good camp, and the best thing about it is they’ve got great bodies in there to work with and we all work together really well.”
Duffee sees himself sticking with AKA, and though he once considered retirement, he sees himself fighting for some time as well.
“In my career it’s been pretty evident that I’ve seen some of the absolute highs of the highs of this sport and I’ve also seen some of the lows of the lows,” he said. “That’s everybody in this sport. If they stick around long enough and they really stick through it, that stuff’s going to happen. To sum it up, it’s been a roller coaster, but I’ve still found a way to really truly enjoy it.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:13:17).