On April 20th, a powerful statement was made by three members of Team Alpha Male and it was directed at the champions in their respective divisions. It didn’t sound like a pin dropping in a quiet room; it was more like a “BANG”. And, the message was clear, ‘we’re coming for your belts.’
At UFC on FOX 7 in San Jose, California, three members of the premier lighter-weight fight team from Sacramento entered the Octagon with bad intentions in their minds and their fists. This extra fuel in their fire or je nais se quoi in their jabs is being widely attributed to the addition of a new head coach: Duane “Bang” Ludwig. It’s only been four months in the making, but the proof is in this punchy pudding – three fights and three KO/TKO wins.
“I was sure that they would win the fights, but not sure they would run through them,” admits Ludwig. “I thought they would win with strikes from breaking down the footage and knowing what great athletes these guys already are going into the cage. I wasn’t sure what round, but that was going to happen regardless.”
Under the watchful eyes of the former K-1 kickboxer, father of two, and UFC welterweight with a pro career of 29-14, the featured fearsome fivesome from Team Alpha Male are undefeated, starting with Danny Castillo’s unanimous decision win over Paul Sass in February. Since that bruising bout of ground and pound from “Last Call” on the British submission specialist, “Bang” has prepared and cornered Urijah Faber to two wins, Joseph Benavidez to one win, Chad Mendes to one win, and TJ Dillashaw to two wins. Minus Castillo’s very decisive victory, the rest have been finishes, with two choking subs by Faber knockouts for Benavidez, Mendes, and Dillashaw.
“I put the information in their head and they put it into motion to tighten up the gap – and they’re doing it,” explains Ludwig. “There’s one thing to do this with regular Joes, but I have world class athletes out here. I’m going to keep what they’ve been doing, but add to it and close up some gaps. It’s been pretty successful so far and I’m a proud papa that’s for sure. Actually, I’m not a papa yet; I’ve only been here for four months. It’s hard for me to say that they’re my guys and my team because I feel like I’m stepping on some toes. I didn’t build it; I’m just fine-tuning some things. I’m not going to take credit for a lot of this, but I do think I’m helping. I’m actually not doing too much because I don’t want to do too much. I want to sprinkle information here and there and let them be their own athlete.”
For the uninitiated, this is not surprising that the 34-year-old Ludwig, with two decades of fighting experience, would be a natural as a head coach for Team Alpha Male. First off, he was more or less self-taught, rising up the ranks of amateur Muay Thai all the way to the elite levels of professional kickboxing. While he did work with the legendary Bas Rutten and boxing coach Trevor Wittman, Ludwig has been a one man team, cultivating fight knowledge, applying what he feels works for him, and evolving his personal style. Second off, “Bang” created a Muay Thai curriculum, which is offered in eight affiliate gyms around the country, including RFLX Training Center near Ludwig’s hometown of Denver, Colorado.