Todd Duffee has a fight with Jeff Hughes lined up at UFC Vancouver, but during fight week, it’s the media that he’s been taking on.
Vancouver, BC — The last time Todd Duffee was in the octagon, it was on the wrong side of a knockout blow from Frank Mir. Duffee (9-3) and Mir served as the main event of UFC Fight Night 71 that night in San Diego. It was 2015, a very different time for the heavyweight division.
Since then, Mir sat out a full two years after a positive drug test under the USADA regime. Left the promotion, joined Bellator, and lost twice there, including to heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko. Champions have come and gone. Velasquez, Werdum, Miocic, Cormier. Now, it’s Miocic again.
That’s a lot of changes. But the talk Thursday, at the UFC Vancouver media day, wasn’t about Duffee’s return fight against Jeff Hughes. In fact, asked about Hughes by Cageside Press, Duffee didn’t really have much to say.
“Haven’t thought much about him. I’m aware of his skill set. I’m aware of his Legacy run, I’m aware of his UFC run, I’ve watched and seen his opponent,” said Duffee. “He’s my opponent. That’s my thoughts. I’m going to go out there and fight.”
Duffee, who also revealed he never considered walking away from the sport during all his struggles and time away, instead focused more on the media, a subject he had also brought up at Wednesday’s open workouts.
Asked about the issues he had with the press, Duffee responded by saying that “you guys just crush fighters, sadly. There’s always a hit piece on somebody.” He also took issue with the media not doing enough to promote fighters. “You guys don’t build fighters up enough. At all. You just don’t. I’m sorry. I’m not talking to anybody directly. I’ve just seen it throughout my career.”
Mind you, there’s a fine line between positive press, and just being a mouthpiece for a promotion. But to Duffee, MMA is “the most prestigious sport in the world.” And it deserves better than what he perceives as coverage that comes with a lack of respect.
“This is the most difficult sport in the world. This is not football, this is not NASCAR,” he proclaimed. “I don’t have a teammate that walks in there with me to go live and die that day. You guys don’t respect it enough sometimes.”
Duffee would go on to add that “if you’re taking it personal, it’s probably you.”
Asked if he’d ever have a hit piece authored about himself, Duffee told Cageside Press that “there’s been tons of guys that have gone after me. I’m an easy target though. I’ve had a lot of hype, I’m a heavyweight, I’m exciting, I’ve had some highs and lows.”
His own situation, however, doesn’t seem to bother him as much as how the media portrays the sport as a whole. “It’s more like the public perception that you guys have, that you’re scoping. It’s your job to scope and explore these story lines, and explore what really goes on in this sport. And I don’t know if you guys love it enough.”
Case in point. “We’re out here getting brain damage, and you guys are like ‘you suck!’ Does he? He’s fighting the best in the world.” Duffee’s not wrong in that regard. That sort of criticism has no place on any professional MMA website, or any proper news outlet (Editor’s note: Cageside Press has a policy to never say a fighter “sucks” in any of our coverage. This policy has been in place since the site’s inception).
“Whether or not there’s a belt on the line, the BMF belt, whatever it may be, we’re all champions,” Duffee went on to add. After all, the organization is called the Ultimate Fighting Championship. “We’ve all risen to this level, and I think guys deserve more respect.”
But despite mentioning writers having gone after him in the past, Duffee added that “I’m not talking about me. I’ve had a great experience with the media for the most part. I’ve been pushed to the front, I’ve had incredible opportunities that maybe I didn’t earn sometimes, that’s fine. But there’s other guys. Across the board, it is what it is. That’s up to you guys.”
Watch the full UFC Vancouver (UFC Fight Night 158) media day press scrum with Todd Duffee above!