At the conclusion of UFC 173 on May 24, Duane “Bang” Ludwig’s tenure as head of coach of Team Alpha Male will come to an end. After T.J. Dillashaw fights for the bantamweight title against champion Renan Barão, Ludwig will relinquish his coaching duties to pursue his lifelong goal of having his own gym.
The former ISKA Muay Thai world champion and veteran mixed martial artist signed on as the team’s head coach in late 2012. Under Ludwig’s guidance, Team Alpha Male went on an impressive winning streak that resulted in team founder Urijah Faber making a title run in the bantamweight division. Joseph Benavidez made a run at the UFC flyweight championship. And Chad Mendes will fight for the featherweight belt against champion Jose Aldo at UFC 176 in August.
Ludwig has had an impact on the entire team, including lightweight Danny Castillo. Since working with Ludwig, Castillo has gone 3-1, including a Fight of the Night performance against Edson Barboza at UFC on FOX 9. He knocked out Charlie Brenneman in his last outing at UFC 172.
“I’ve learned so much from Duane, on a physical level and on a personal level. Duane Ludwig is an awesome coach. He’s an awesome dad. And he’s a great friend. As a coach, he’s probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with,” Castillo recently told MMAWeekly.com.
“I’ve had some great coaches in my life in wrestling and mixed martial arts. But he’s always the most prepared. I’ve never had a coach that went in there with a game plan all written out for a single practice. And you get a little bit of confidence when you’re working with a coach that takes his job seriously,” he added.
When he got the news that Ludwig was leaving, Castillo didn’t want to believe it.
“In the beginning, I was a little distraught about it. Like (expletive) we finally got a coach that cares, that’s focused on his job about making everyone better. And now he’s gone,” said Castillo.
After talking with Ludwig, Castillo can’t help but support his former coach in his future plans.
“Since he was a kid all he wanted to do was have his own academy, have his own school. That’s what he’s pursuing. So it’s hard for me to be upset at a man that’s trying to live out his dream. His dream is to have his own academy. Not only that, he’s from Colorado. He wants to be close to his friends and family. How can I be upset at someone who wants the same thing that I do,” he said.
Although Ludwig is leaving Team Alpha Male, Castillo still plans to work with him and remain close friends.
“What I’m going to lose from it is nothing. I’m not going to lose anything. Duane is still going to be in my life. He’s a good friend, like I said. There are no hard feelings on my end,” said Castillo.
“He welcomed me to come out to Colorado and train. He said that if I have any fights that I want him to come down to Sacramento and train that he would do it. He told me he’s not interested in starting another fight team. He’s made some real close bonds with some of the guys on the team. He told me that it would be hard to start another fight team because he genuinely cares about us so much.”