Welterweight striker Duane Ludwig had one hell of a Christmas present from the UFC.
After years of campaigning, he was finally awarded the record for fastest knockout by UFC President Dana White, who devoted an entire special video blog to figuring out who actually held the record.
On top of that, he was also granted a co-main event fight against veteran scrapper Josh Neer for this Friday's (January 20, 2012) inaugural UFC on FX show, which should provide him with heaps of exposure to potential new fans of the sport.
Needless to say, it's a good time to be "Bang" right now.
The Muay Thai kickboxing veteran spoke with MMAmania.com during a special guest appearance on The Verbal Submission about finally getting his much-deserved recognition, his mind-set as the fight approaches and dealing with Josh Neer's unorthodox attacks.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Could you have asked for a better Christmas present? Dana White taking the time out to go back and digitally review your knockout and officially award you the fasted knockout in UFC history?
Duane Ludwig: Yeah, it was definitely cool and it was unexpected for sure. It was definitely good timing with Christmas right around the corner so everything came together really good and I was happy that the fans really came together for me. It was important they were voicing their opinion to Facebook and Twitter and everyone kinda came together and manifested this into a reality. It's kinda cool that we all came together and made this happen.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That happened five years ago and it's just getting recognized now. What do you think led to this, kinda sparked Dana to go out of his way and award you the record now?
Duane Ludwig: Well it was a combination of a few things. One was Todd Duffee getting the fastest knockout originally. They gave it to him and Joe Rogan came aboard and said, "No, it was actually Duane," and then when the Korean Zombie stopped Hominick, again that voice of opinion, Joe Rogan on the braodcast saying, "No, it should be Duane," and then I think if it wasn't for Ariel Helwani who got Dana White on video and actually questioned him like, "Hey, Duane Ludwig and the MMA community all feel that it's actually Duane with the fasted knockout and not the Zombie. Could you look into that?" So honestly, I think if it wasn't for Ariel Helwani, it wouldn't have went through so a big thanks to him for sure and that was the first person to get Dana on camera and say he'll look into it. Dana is a man of his word and he did and he dedicated that one video blog entirely to me, myself for that fastest knockout situation and it came to reality which is very cool.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Since that happened five years ago, I know you've had a movement, how long has this campaign been going before the fruits of your labors finally paid off?
Duane Ludwig: I never really paid too much mind to it when it happened until Todd Duffee started getting so much recognition and stuff and then I realized, "Hey, that's actually my record. I should be the one getting the added attention, that recognition," and once I seen how much publicity he was getting, I was like, "Man, I could use that publicity to help myself and others so I need that," and that's what sparked my interest to go and get it overturned. I never spoke with the commission actually, I sent them letters and e-mails and stuff and they just said there was nothing in the rulebooks that they could change it and they just kind of passed the puck to be honest so that's why I was really thankful for Dana stepping up and making it official for the UFC and being a man of his word but I approached the commission two separate times and this last time, I really pushed through with it and I had the fans behind me and we all came together and made a lout enough voice that Dana heard it and he got it on camera and made it come true. It was just really good timing.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This is a question I've got about the commission which is strange. They can alter a guy whether he won or lost if he tests positive for steroids or if a referee makes a mistake like the Charles Oliveira/Nik Lentz fight, stuff like that. They can just change a win but they can't go and fix a timekeeping error where a guy just didn't press his stopwatch at the right time?
Duane Ludwig: Yeah, that's what's weird. As if they don't want to go ahead and admit they were wrong or made a mistake. It's a little confusing to be honest. It's okay. It means more to me to have the fans and my family members and the UFC behind me moreso than a government employed man in a suit but I think there's gotta be something else behind it to be honest. The Athletic Commission, I feel, they can say, "Okay, we made a mistake. We'll go ahead and change that," but they're not doing that. I think there's something else to the story that I'm unaware of but either way, it's okay. I've got the fastest knockout with the fans and with the UFC so that means more to me like I said than with a government employee, some man in a suit.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Last question I've got about it, everyone was saying four seconds, but then when Dana White went and did his whole official 'referee clapping to referee putting his hands on the fighter' and he said it was 6.06, was that okay that it's still the fastest but it's like two seconds slower than what you or a lot of people thought originally?
Duane Ludwig: Still the fastest. I'm still smiling. (laughs) All is good. All is good. It's pretty great because The Zombie, his was a little slower than mine, like two tenths of a second or something crazy so I was like, "Wow! I didn't know that." Luckily it worked out for me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Wouldn't that have been the worst if they finally go back and check for you only to find out that Chan Sung Jung's was faster than yours?
Duane Ludwig: Oh yeah man, that would have sucked! That would have been a comic situation.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): There's more to Duane Ludwig than just the fastest knockout in UFC history. That's a terrific honor but you're a busy guy. You've got a fight coming up and I've got a lot of questions about it. First of all, I've heard that you get strange or weird before your fights. You become different. Can you tell me about that?
Duane Ludwig: Yeah, I get a little bit more short tempered and not accepting people's bullshit as much. I'm quicker to pull the trigger at certain situations and I let less slide in all areas. It's a little bit of that and it's mainly that but whatever the situation is or the scenario, I don't let the BS fly by me as easily.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Sounds like you get more in tune with reality as combat comes closer.
Duane Ludwig: Yeah. My reality definitely shifts. Reality is always relative of course to the individual and my reality definitely changes because it goes from a couple months out from the fight, letting things slide and being nice, "It's okay. It's no problem," to more short tempered. Not that I go out and beat people up or anything but I definitely express my opinions a lot faster than I usually would.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Something else I saw which I think is really interesting is that you're on the Dolce Diet for this fight. Usually people use that when they need help dropping weight to make sure they're body recovers but you were a guy who entered the UFC in your most recent run as a lightweight and then went back up to welterweight. How is the Dolce Diet helping you for this fight? Is it just to give you more energy? Can you kind of explain what you expect?
Duane Ludwig: Well I've known Mike Dolce for three years and I've used him to make the cut to '55 and it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be making 155 for my last couple fights but it's just too much of a stretch and a struggle to make 155 that my focus was always on the diet and not on getting better as an athlete so I decided to go to 170 based on quite a few people's recommendations including Mike Dolce and no matter what weight you're fighting at, you want to do it correctly and the Dolce Diet is what's done correctly. If you follow on that and stick to it, you can be the best athlete you can be nutritional-wise which is definitely for health for sure, you definitely have more energy, your attention and attentiveness for training, the fight itself and the recovery aspect. There's a lot to the Dolce Diet than just losing weight. It's also making sure you have proper weight and the ideal weight no matter what weight you want to fight at. You get the ideal performance anyways.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you entered the UFC as a lightweight, we've seen a lot of fighters as they age and become veterans, they bump up a weight class. We've seen guys like Dan Henderson, Frank Trigg, B.J. Penn, was that more of a process of you felt a lot more comfortable at welterweight? The results have shown.
Duane Ludwig: Yeah, definitely because I've been walking around at 190, 195 for the last three or four years so making 155 has always been a struggle for me. Now that I'm lifting weights and I'm on a little bit different form of the Dolce Diet, making 170 is much easier. I'm actually at a restaurant with my family eating. When I train, when I lift weights and when I step on the mat, I focus on getting better and not just counting calories now. The mental shift now, versus fighting at lightweight is totally different.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're not exactly a fan of guys that wrestle people and just hold them down for their fighting style, so how excited are you to be going in there against a guy who's a banger like Josh Neer for your next fight?
Duane Ludwig: It's definitely good because I like having exciting fights and I don't want to have to focus in the back of my mind like, "Is this guy gonna try to take me down and hold me?" so it's definitely gonna allow me to express my athleticism as a striker as well as him as well. It's definitely good to showcase my skills without the mind-set of, "Is this guy gonna try to hold me down for three rounds?" It feels good for me, it's good for the fans and it's good for Josh. We'll get in there and just scrap so I'm definitely excited to showcase my skills.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you feel this is almost primed to be a bonus-stealing type of fight just because of the way you two go at each other with your offense in the cage?
Duane Ludwig: Yeah, for sure. We're definitely gonna be scrapping. He's a tough guy. He's a veteran, has been around for a long time. He's got a ton of good wins and he's always a gamer so I'm looking forward to this fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I"m sure you've watched some film of Neer, especially his most recent fight against Keith Wisniewski. His last fight, watching that, he used this unorthodox standing elbow attack and I'm just wondering, with your Muay Thai background, can you describe that technique and how it was so effective?
Duane Ludwig: Well it was effective because Keith just stood there and sort of allowed him to do it. He was just standing right in front of the guy and just be a punching bag for Neer and he wasn't really throwing much back and I felt like it was either the weight cut or the short notice or something but he looked like he wasn't in shape and I'm talking about Keith. It was definitely a good fight for Neer. He was able to bully him and elbow him and work where he wanted to work but I don't feel like that's going to happen against me. I'm definitely gonna come in shape and that's my area. I like to fight inside and I'm a striker as well and it's not gonna be as easy for him to do that to me as it was for him to do to Keith. That would not be a good idea.
Ben Thapa: I recall you going for the takedown at least two or three times in the Sadallah fight. I just remember thinking, "What is Bang Ludwig doing?" Did you take an opportunity to advance your game?
Duane Ludwig: I definitely try to evolve my game to be a mixed martial artist and not just a Muay Thai fighter anymore. I fight for the UFC and obviously it's multiple fighting styles. You can do just about anything and I'm a professional so I tried to get better and it's gonna create more openings and scenarios and scrambles. He tried to take me down and instead, if he's worried that I might take him down, I want him to have that in the back of his mind as well that I'm not just a stand-up fighter. I can mix it up. Just for me, as an individual, that's one of the reasons why I still fight this sport, to know something about me, finding out who I am and getting better in all areas. Every time I train, I don't gameplan my training towards specific opponents but with the way fights are, opponents can switch at the last minute anyways so I focus on what I can control and that's myself, myself getting better as an athlete. I want to try to improve in all areas.
Gerry Rodriguez: I know we've talked to death the fastest knockout thing, but did Dana throw around any extra cash for officially recognizing your knockout as the fastest in UFC history?
Duane Ludwig: At the time when I actually got the knockout, it was almost six years ago, I got a bonus in the mail which was $500. At the time, it was definitely great and they were just starting give out bonuses and it was cool. Now that it's officially recognized as the fastest knockout, I have got no additional bonus, no.
Gerry Rodriguez: Luke Rockhold called out UFC middleweights saying to bring them over here. Has there been any discussion or any ideas tossed around about guys in lower weight classes potentially going over to Strikeforce and making some interesting match-ups and would that be something that would interest you?
Duane Ludwig: Not that I know of. There's no talks that I'm aware of but I'm definitely open to fighting, maybe to go to Strikeforce or to have some of them come to the UFC because they're all under the same company. Let me back up on that. I'd rather fight in the UFC because of more exposure, sponsors and things like that. If I was to fight a Strikeforce guy, I'd rather it be done in the UFC just because of the exposure factor but I'm open to fighting whoever.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've been visualizing this fight since it got announced, so when you're closing your eyes and thinking about fighting Josh Neer, how do you see the fight playing out? How do you see yourself winning?
Duane Ludwig: I see myself winning. I feel on paper, I'm a more technical striker. i use the head and the body, cutting angles so I just see myself outpointing him to be honest.
To listen to the complete audio of Duane's interview click here.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Ludwig's resurgent run at welterweight continue against Josh Neer? Is there any shot he breaks his knockout record?