There are very few fighters than fans follow for more than 5 years. Guys can lose a couple fights, retire, get cut or just get lost in the fray that is the exploding world of MMA. Then take out the warriors of PRIDE and that list shrinks to a very select few. Today we get the chance to sit down with one of those names that still draw the attention of the masses, and oh yeah he holds the fastest KO in UFC history, none other than that legendary Duane “BANG” Ludwig. If that name doesn’t ring a bell in your head it may be time to start looking into another sport because he is one of the staples of MMA and a true pioneer of the sport.
Hey Duane, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down with us. Can you take a minute and tell us how you got in to the sport of MMA?
Ludwig: Thanks for having me man. I got into MMA because everyone else seemed to be doing it here in Colorado and once I tried it I loved it. I started out kickboxing and at the time that was really easy to find. As the times changed and MMA blew up the kickboxing world was shrinking and MMA was everywhere, with the kickboxing background but now the sport really compasses all aspects of MMA.
You have fought all over the nation as well as all over the world. What can you tell us about the fans your have encountered and which fans are your favorite?
Ludwig: The Japanese fans in general on a different level from the rest of the world because of their culture and knowledge of the sport. It was cool to get to fight over there. As for my favorite fans I would have to go with the Colorado fans haha got to go with the hometown. It has always been a sporting community and they know their stuff.
You’re the first fighter to mention his hometown crowd that is awesome! You have also fought in a bunch of different promotions such as Strikeforce, ROF, Sengoku, K-1 and of course the UFC, what can you tell us about the differences between the promotions?
Ludwig: The US promotions such as the UFC tend to be a little more respectful of the fighters in that they communicate better, for example letting you know who you are fight and when. The Japanese promotions especially Sengoku tend to be a little less respectful of American fighters but their fans are great.
Hey strike one up for the USA haha! Now you have a list of fights that may be second to none with guys like Penn, Pulver, Gomi, Hardy, and Mills just to name a few. Which fight sticks out in your mind the most?
Ludwig: That is a really tough one but I would have to go with Jens Pulver fight. It was the first time I won a full title (UCC Lightweight Title) and people forget Jens was a top Pound for Pound guy and the #1 Lightweight in the world at that time. It also had a lot of drama leading up because it was postponed, rescheduled, and then postponed and on and on. It took a while but it finally happened and I got the title.
Yeah, people tend to forget just how amazing some of these guys that are getting up in there in age were (don’t kill me Jens and Matt Hughes haha). Ok you fought Jonathan Goulet at UFC Fight Night 3 and won via the fastest KO in UFC history. How cool is that?
Ludwig: You know it is something cool to tell the grandkids and it is always nice to be a part of history. But there is an interesting story behind that fight, I took it in a 2 ½ week notice, I was training but not TRAINING you know. I almost didn’t answer the phone when my manager called but thought yeah I should answer that haha. I then got hurt in camp and really fought that fight on one arm which in my mind helped me because I had to really focus in on his movements and then react and that’s how I got the win.
Wow! This is why I love interviewing people because you see these amazing things happen in fight but then when you talk with them you find out crazy back stories. Now you have held 7 titles in your career, which is your favorite?
Ludwig: The Kickboxing title I got in K-1, it was always a childhood dream of mine. MMA wasn’t really around then so I grew up on kickboxing and yeah that would be my favorite.
Now we saw you unfortunately hurt your knee in your last fight with Che Mills and you are starting to get a little more years behind you and you just opened “BANG Muay Thai INC (congrats on that), can you tell us where your focus is at and when can we expect to see you back in the cage?
Ludwig: Yeah I need to get healthy before I start thinking about that again and that should be around September. I have been keeping active with coaching and with the new gym. The business side of MMA isn’t the most fun aspect but I have been happy to step away until I get healthy and think about where I go next.
Speaking about your coaching you just signed a deal with Team Alpha Male to be the striking coach, how has that been going? We see in other sports when a coach takes over an elite team there can be a butting of heads sometimes with the star athletes do you see any of that?
Ludwig: Man it has been great at Team Alpha Male, I had another deal on the table in Vegas but considered all my options and what was best for my family and Sacramento was what best. It is a great place to live, I have a bunch of hardnose workers who ask questions trying to get better. I will be honest when I walked in I was entire perception of wrestlers was blown away these guys are amazing athletes and people.
I haven’t really had any butting of heads with the elite guys, Urijah Faber is such an amazing athlete and is a sponge in the gym. He listens to everything all the coaches have to say now if that happens in the cage 100% of the time is a different story haha.
A lot of media has talked about the improved striking of T.J. Dillashaw after his last fight vs Tamura at UFC 158 where he recorded his first career KO. What can you tell us about TJ?
Ludwig: Man that kid does everything I ask and has really been working on his strking even before I got there so he should be getting more credit. I think he would have won the fight without me I just asked him to do things and he did them. I relate him to the movie “Avatar” in that he is like my personal video game haha. We have a connection whatever I say he does and we are just on the same page all the time it is amazing.
NICE! Now time for the Fight Club question we ask everyone. If you could pick one person to fight who would it be and why?
Ludwig: Wow that is a really tough one. I would have to go with Jesus, not to fight him but to take that time to meet him and talk.
But if I had to pick a fighter I would want to fight Gomi in a rematch.
Wow! You are the first person to ever say Jesus that is amazing! Great answer! Now if you had to give someone who was thinking about getting to the sport of MMA one piece of advice what would it be and why?
Ludwig: Get your bases down. Get a good wrestling base and expand from there to skills like Thai Boxing and Jiu Jitsu. Those are so important.
Thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with us. It really was a pleasure. Make sure to follow Duane on Twitter @DuaneBANGCOM!