Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweight champion Jose Aldo and former title contender Chad Mendes put on a match for the ages during their title fight rematch at UFC 179, which took place just last month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
For five rounds, the two talented fighters went toe-to-toe, strike-for-strike, in a battle of attrition that ultimately saw "Junior" retain his title (video).
Since UFC President Dana White was sitting cageside -- as usual -- he recently told The Download that he called both combatants a few days after the fight to congratulate them on their performances and tell them how honored he was to have witnessed such an epic battle.
"I called Mendes and I called Aldo three days after the fight to tell them how honored I was to be able to sit in the seat I was sitting in and seeing that fight. It was two guys who don't want to move backwards and who won't break, and they just kept going at each other. Aldo won the war of attrition. He won that fight. A lot of people were talking about Mendes getting robbed. Mendes fought an awesome fight, but Aldo absolutely won that fight and I think it raised his stock."
While both men put forth their best effort, what stood out to most was the fact that Mendes, a wrestler, stood in the pocket and fired away with his improved striking which included a surprisingly improved kicking arsenal. Though he didn't get the victory, Aldo's busted face was proof that "Money's" striking rivals that of any other featherweight on the planet, Aldo's included.
Much of the credit for Chad's improved stand-up goes to coach Duane Ludwig, who made an immediate impact on Team Alpha Male after becoming their head striking coach in early 2013.
While he was walking into a camp filled will already-established stars such as Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez, and Mendes, "Bang" quickly turned a group of talented wrestlers into dangerous stand-up fighters; as the camp went on an unprecedented run in the year that followed, which included plenty of high-profile victories and knockouts (KO).
Chief among them was T.J. Dillashaw's upset victory over former bantamweight champion, Renan Barao, back at UFC 173. A fight "Viper" dominated and ultimately won on the feet. Add that to the performance Mendes put on against Aldo, and that is good enough for White to say Ludwig could very well be the best striking coach in the business.
"All the props in the world to Bang Ludwig, who might be the best striking coach in the business. Yes, he jumped into a camp full of studs, guys who were extremely talented, but they were wrestlers. What you saw at UFC 179 was a Chad Mendes who was checking Aldo's kicks, and I think landed more leg kicks than Aldo did in that fight. Mendes wanted that belt so goddamn bad, and they went toe to toe."
Though Ludwig is no longer the official striking coach for Team Alpha Male, he continues to work with Dillashaw and Mendes on a regular basis.
And while he and "Money" came up short in their quest to bring a second title to Sacramento, you can't ignore the fact that "Bang" has turned a group of fighters who were mostly known for their wrestling, into all-out striking machines.
Martin Kampmann has a pretty tough act to follow.