Famed striking coach, kickboxing and UFC veteran Duane Ludwig has really left his mark at Team Alpha Male. As their head coach for years, ‘Bang’ brought the team on leaps and bounds during his full time stint there, and TJ Dillashaw is perhaps the man that has learned and gained the most from Ludwig’s tutelage. ‘The Viper’ earned UFC bantamweight gold with his flashy footwork and crisp striking at UFC 173, scoring the biggest upset ever against the formerly unstoppable Renan Barao.
‘Killashaw’ will look to take out Barao in the rematch at UFC on FOX 16 this coming Saturday July 25th, but ‘Bang’ is no longer a coach at Team Alpha Male, having left the camp to open his own gym in Denver, Colorado. Dillashaw still trains his striking with Ludwig, dividing his time between the California based Urijah Faber-led Alpha Male team, and his old friend ‘Bang’.
Talking to SiriusXM Fight Club, as transcribed by MMAMania.com, the famed striking coach gives his thoughts on the long-awaited championship rematch:
“There was a reason why he was dominant because he did the things that he needed to do,” said Ludwig. “So, we need to do the same things this time as well, again, do the things that we need to do. We have to respect Barao’s power and understand his positioning and footwork so when we decide to launch our combinations or footwork or whatever we are going to do at that particular time, it’s the actual right time to do it.
“And not to look past Barao because we had somewhat of an easier fight the first time. We still have to respect Barao and the respect is always there because that’s one of the things as a martial artist, is to make sure you are not getting ahead of yourself and controlling yourself and knowing when to attack. When, where and why.”
Ludwig’s influence left a mark on the Alpha Male team, but there was a rift building between he and ‘The California Kid’ towards the end. He continues, claiming TJ is the only team member in California that actually trains correctly, and really wants to win the title:
“He actually wants it,” Ludwig said. “TJ is the only one who actually wants to be a champion. TJ trains a lot harder and is a lot more focused than anyone else on the team, period.”
“There’s just certain people that want it more than others,” he continued. “He has a stronger drive, a stronger determination. He actually believes he can be champ and he’s the one who puts in the extra work, asks the questions, trains a bit harder, takes less breaks…. He’s the only guy…. Danny Castillo works really hard as well. Danny over-trains himself. T.J. is just very smart on how he trains as well, and it’s just a difference when you see the whole Alpha Male Team train, and T.J. sticks out.”
Chad Mendes was recently unsuccessful in his third UFC title attempt, as he fell t Conor McGregor at UFC 189, Ludwig feels that if ‘Money’ were to join Dillashaw in training striking with him in Denver, he could well be wearing the belt too:
“Chad is not one of the guys who is always in the gym training hard,” he said. “So, he wasn’t in the best shape for the fight. I think if Chad was in shape — I don’t know if it would’ve been a different outcome — but it definitely would’ve been a different fight. Chad, man… I’ll tell you what, no one needs me, but everyone who works with me is going to do better with me than without me. That’s for sure. And I feel with the proper camp, Chad could be wearing the belt, he could wearing the belt right now. I felt that too when he fought Aldo the second time.”
Contrary to popular belief then, Mendes would not have been gym fit for the fight. Many believed that the entire Team Alpha Male set of contenders stayed in shape year round, but clearly that trend left with Ludwig.
Should Chad Mendes take the advice of Duane Ludwig and Join TJ Dillashaw on his striking trips?