New perspective: Team Alpha Male head coach Duane Ludwig interview exclusive with MMAmania.com (Part two)

Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting

How can Duane Ludwig help a team transition from having three of the second-best fighters in their respective weight classes into champions? Find out below.

Duane Ludwig has his regrets as a fighter. He wishes he'd been more objective about his career instead of focusing on training and getting ready for the next bout.

All it takes is a little perspective.

Now that "Bang" has taken over head coaching responsibilities at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, he's picked up a thing or two, particularly in the world of film study and gameplanning. Not only is Ludwig bringing in his experience as a veteran of 35 mixed martial arts (MMA) fights and 56 professional kickboxing bouts, he feels his attention to detail is second to none.

Alpha Male has not only not lost a significant fight since Ludwig took over, they've been destroying everyone in their path, going 9-0 in the last five months with seven impressive stoppages as Joseph Benavidez, Chad Mendes, T.J. Dillashaw and Urijah Faber have all climbed the ranks to become top contenders in their respective divisions.

Ludwig humbly admits he feels the team would still be winning without him, but he believes he can add that "extra three percent" they need to get over that hump and start bringing home championship gold.

The long-time veteran discussed his coaching influences and positive impact in part one of our interview posted last night. In part two today, he talks about not settling for second place, adding some discipline and his unique film watching routine in this exclusive interview.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You keep bringing up the titles and not being runner up anymore. That's incredibly important because it's been the stigma of these guys. They're so talented. You've got Faber who's the number two guy behind two title holders at bantamweight, Benavidez the number two guy behind the champion at flyweight and Mendes, the number two guy behind the champion at featherweight. They're so close. How close do you think they are to getting over the hump?

Duane Ludwig: Urijah has three things that I feel he needs to work on, one thing in particular. Once he times up those gaps, closes those gaps, understands what he needs to do, he'll be wearing the belt. What I see is pretty glaringly obvious especially against these Brazilian fighters and it's gonna take some time. It's a basic thing he's been doing for years and it takes some time to erase that programming and reset it.

With Benavidez, that guy has one thing to fix, just one thing and he was already doing it in this last fight. For him to wear the belt, whoever the title holder is when he faces them because he's gonna fight again soon. When he closes that gap, he'll be wearing the belt. That's for sure.

Chad Mendes has two things he needs to work on. Once he's fixed up those two things, he'll also be wearing the belt. In my opinion, he would be wearing that belt right now if Jose Aldo didn't grab the cage in their first bout to prevent that takedown. He could wear that belt right now if he got another shot. Regardless, I want him to fix something because if he doesn't, it's gonna keep his percentage level lower than it should be. I just want to increase his odds to wearing that strap and he has two things to worry about to increase those odds.

They're making those gains really quick because they're world class athletes. I don't give them all the information. I don't tell them why they're doing everything because I don't want to overload them, have them overthink everything. I just want them to know what they're supposed to do and to believe it. You don't need to think much when you're walking, you just walk. I make sure they do their combinations technically correct and increase their odds for success. They're gonna win the straps for sure.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): : Urijah Faber is one of the most interesting cases you brought up. I know you weren't around the last times he's fought for titles, but this is something we hear time and time again. When he's fighting for number one contender, he almost competes with complete disregard for his opponent and not only beats them, but he finishes them in convincing fashion. But when he fights for the belt, something just seems off. I was wondering if you had any perspective on that.

Duane Ludwig: What people are not understanding is there's a big gap stylistically and athletically between the people he's fighting to get a shot at the champions and the champions themselves. That's what people aren't taking into regard. That's just the way it is. An easy comparison is Anderson Silva. Anderson is the number one guy, that's for sure. The number one contender for that belt, there's still a big gap between Anderson Silva and that number one contender. That's what people aren't understanding. If you grade people on an A, B, C or D level and you give Anderson Silva an A+, the number one contender is fighting him but he's not the same grade.

Urijah Faber smashes these people because right now, I'd give him an A or A- depending on the day and the people he's steamrolling are B+ or B level fighters in that grading scale. Look at it that way, it's easier to understand why he's crushing these people trying to get to the title but then when he's fighting the champion, the champ is an A+ fighter. For Urijah to get to that A+ level, he has to fix those three things. That's one thing people just don't understand.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): For so long, these guys were always cornering each other. Fighters do an admirable job, but to me at least, coaches pick up on things a bit differently. Do you think you've been able to help them when you're in the corner as well?

Duane Ludwig: Yeah, I've been able to help in the cornering because I'm looking at mixed martial arts now from the outside and I also happen to have some of the inside knowledge as well. I've been doing martial arts since I was eight, competing since I was 16 and I have a whole bunch of information in my brain. When I look at things, you just know what to look for. I don't know everything because the sport is always evolving, but I know too much information not to teach it. I definitely know that.

When you have a fighter who's going in, focusing on himself but dishing out some of that time to coach, maybe one to two hours a day, what I'm doing now is focusing 24 hours a day on coaching. I'm not splitting everything up and training myself. I have more time to help them and to understand things. I realize now I should have looked at my own fights more, taken more time off to look at things from this aspect I'm in now but I had this mental block focused on just fighting, fighting, fighting. I wasn't stepping back. Having fighters playing double roles just isn't going to cut it compared to having a full-time coach. Hell, there's full-time coaches out there that aren't cutting it either.

You can just be more detailed compared to a part-time coach, if you want to break it down into a simple answer.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How do you see yourself evolving as a coach in this next year?

Duane Ludwig: As far as me evolving as a coach, it's gonna happen. I'm always studying film, looking at fights from all aspects. When I watch a fight, I watch it from A's corner and then I watch it from B's corner. Even with that, I look at the fight again and I alter my own consciousness and I watch the fights again just to make sure, just to get some different looks on things. I actually have another guy in Colorado who reviews film for me as well. From one fight in particular, I get a lot of looks. I watch it multiple times from different stages of consciousness and I have other people watching it. I put more research into fighting than anybody does, more effort into this game than people are aware of, that's for sure.

I don't care what gym I'm at. I'm gonna help that gym. I've been across to many trainers and I know how people should train in many aspects, whether it's the intensity, being safe, having the right equipment, showing up on time. The things that you're supposed to be aware of while you're drilling, that's what's making the difference here at Alpha Male. I'm opening up their eyes more and giving them a different perspective. I take my job very serious and I haven't come across a coach that takes it as serious as me because I have Bas Rutten's intensity about going after it and I have Trevor Wittman's detail. I'm gonna make sure that I do better than the previous. That's just what I have to be. I'm gonna do the best I can at the position.

They respect me because I respect them. I respect them as the world class athletes that they are.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What do you mean by altered state of consciousness?

Duane Ludwig: It's freakin legal. Let me address this issue. When I watch film, I watch film normal how I am now. Then I watch film when I'm high on marijuana. I also watch the film again when I have Alpha Brain in my system. I watch film from three different states of consciousness just to get different looks at things. Just to see if maybe I missed a step or a nice little detail just to get different looks on things. I take this serious as hell. So serious that, if the guys aren't making strides, I personally get my feelings hurt because I want them to succeed so much. I feel it, man. "This could be better. Take a step here, a two step there." I care for these fucking guys that's for sure.

Duane would like to thank GLC 2000, Vega one, a supplement company and Onnit, particularly Alpha Brain. You can follow him on Twitter @DuaneBangCom.

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