TJ Dillashaw And Duane Ludwig Relationship
TJ Dillashaw shocked the world back in May when he utterly dominated every second of his title fight with the previously imperious Bantamweight champion Renan Barao, and in doing so not only made everyone see quite how talented he really was but also highlighted the impact of the man in his corner, coach of the year Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig.
Urijah Faber brought in Ludwig to take over as the first-ever head coach of Team Alpha Male in December of 2012 after previous Muay Thai coach Thonglor ‘Master Thong’ Armatsena didn’t return from a week-long holiday. ‘Bang’ incorporated his own brand of Muay Thai to the team, and the results were outstanding.
They increased their win rate by 39%, their finish rate by 94% and their KO/TKO rate by an incredible 151%. Formerly, T.A.M was mainly noted for their chokes (sometimes nicknamed Team Guillotine). Ludwig added high-level striking and knockout power to the arsenals of many prominent wrestlers. And facilitated a closing of the gap to their rival camp, Nova Uniao.
Team alpha male on the Rise
This period saw Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez earn title shots, Chris Holdsworth win The Ultimate Fighter. As well as career-best performances for the likes of Chad Mendes and Danny Castillo.
The strongest bond formed during his time in Sacramento, however, was with former Ultimate Fighter 14 finalist, TJ Dillashaw. The 28-year-old, who lost to John Dodson in The Ultimate Fighter finale adapted excellently to Ludwig’s coaching style. And the two have become great friends in addition to their strong working relationship.
The results of this relationship were apparent early on, with Dillashaw, an accomplished collegiate wrestler out of California State University. Earning his first two UFC wins by way of strikes against Issei Tamura and Brazilian Tae Kwon Do exponent. Hugo Viana. Rising up the rankings, the California native would then take on another Brazilian. This time Raphael Assuncao, a former victim of Dillashaw’s camp-mate Urijah Faber.
TJ Dillashaw Rebounds
Despite dropping a fight of the night split decision, TJ rebounded with a win over Mike Easton. He really entered the championship discussion though after the selfless post-fight interview given by Faber. As he graciously suggested his teammate as the next challenger following his own loss to Barao.
Mixed Martial Arts has a history of strong relationships between fighter and coach, such as Duke Roufus’ almost father-son like relationship with Anthony Pettis . The great meeting of minds between Firas Zahabi and Georges St. Pierre.
And one of the most notable of all, Chuck Liddell’s association with John Hackleman that led to the Iceman’s wild run atop the UFC’s 205lb division. But it is Dillashaw and Ludwig that have captured the attention of the Mixed Martial Arts world.
Where it differs from the others mentioned above is that it began when the fighter’s career was already well underway. And although clearly talented, TJ himself would happily admit he was nowhere near a title run, let alone a championship, something acknowledged by Ludwig after the fight.
Nowhere near a title run
Where it differs from the others mentioned above is that it began when the fighter’s career was already well underway. And although clearly talented, TJ himself would happily admit he was nowhere near a title run. Let alone a championship, something acknowledged by Ludwig after the fight.
But it is Dillashaw and Ludwig that have captured the attention of the Mixed Martial Arts world. Where it differs from the others mentioned above is that it began when the fighter’s career was already well underway. And although clearly talented, TJ himself would happily admit he was nowhere near a title run. Let alone a championship, something acknowledged by Ludwig after the fight.
“I can’t just take some fighter and make them a UFC world champion. I can’t say that T.J. wouldn’t have won the championship without me, but I will say it was easier with me.”
The partnership wasn’t nurtured over the course of a career; it was a fighter and a coach that just clicked, both personally and professionally. As seen on this episode of UFC Embedded, Ludwig was living with Dillashaw during his camp for UFC 177.
The Joe Rogan Experience
The two appeared together on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, and TJ is currently the only Brown Belt in Bang Muay Thai. It is simply a relationship, just like any relationship in any other in any walk of life, that just works; and it works well.
Duane Ludwig has since relocated back to his home state of Colorado to open up his own academy. And his prickly relationship with Urijah Faber has played its part in creating a very complicated situation. That all parties involved are probably tired of being asked about. Dillashaw though remains committed to the system that contributed so greatly to his title win.
“I’m going to continue training with Team Alpha Male, But I’m gonna cross-train with Duane. I’ll go out and train with him when I’m out of camp and will fly him in when I’m in camp. I’m going to work with Duane. He’ll be in my corner. I plan on getting my blackbelt under the guy. He is a genius”
After retaining his Bantamweight championship against late replacement Joe Soto at UFC 177. There is a possibility TJ Dillashaw may be forced into a decision sooner rather than later. There are many intriguing fights possible at 135lbs. The Renan Barao rematch that was originally scheduled. Former champion Dominick Cruz who returns next month after a long layoff, and Raphael Assuncao, who could become #1 contender with a win over Bryan Caraway next month.
The Faber Fight
The most intriguing by a distance though is a potential matchup with Urijah Faber. ‘The California Kid’ has already lost in three previous attempts for the belt but submitted Alex Caceres in July to begin another run towards the belt.
Despite Faber at one point suggesting it would take “a billion dollars” for him to take the fight, Dana White has since expressed confidence he could get it made for much less . A fight like that could really capture the interest of the fans, and although there aren’t many out there that don’t love Urijah Faber, it would be hard to bet against The Bang Effect.
Image courtesy of superlutas.com