With apologies for paraphrasing Gavin Rossdale, it's the little things that kill. And it was the little things that were killing Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, Joseph Benavidez and the other UFC championship also-rans at Team Alpha Male.
That's according to new team head coach Duane "Bang" Ludwig. Since Ludwig, a UFC veteran and world Muay Thai champion, assumed the post in December, the UFC fighters on Team Alpha Male's roster have gone 5-0, including knockout wins from Mendes, Benavidez and T.J. Dillashaw at Saturday's UFC on Fox 7.
Ludwig said Monday on The MMA Hour broadcast that although he is enjoying the wave of notoriety accompanying the win streak, he believes that the Team Alpha Male stable—which has finished 0-4 in UFC title fights—won't be a true success until it hits gold.
"That’s the hurdle. That’s the whole thing," Ludwig said. "Without me, these guys are still winning these fights; how they’re winning them, I don’t know. But that’s the true test: see if we can get these guys a world title. That’s our goal."
Ludwig said he has been working with Alpha Male fighters on fine tuning, rather than the more macro-level components.
"There’s a lot of things that happen in training with training partners and sparring. There’s a whole bunch of little things," Ludwig said. "It wasn’t one main glaring thing, it was just a whole bunch of little small things that needed to be tightened up as far as when you do drills."
As an example, Ludwig described a fighter training to prevent a counterattack related to an armbar attempt. In its distilled form, Ludwig's indication was that he was helping Team Alpha Male fighters identify and plan for an opponent's specific tendencies, then identify and polish the fighters' best responses to those tendencies.
"We’re just role playing and working in different scenarios. Situational plans," Ludwig said. "I’m breaking down footage…[And] we put it in reps. Just putting in quality reps."
Ludwig said former coach-in-residence Thonglor "Master Thong" Armatsena is still with the team. This despite the fact that Faber, a former WEC champion and the founder of Team Alpha Male, said that Armatsena took a long leave of absence after Ludwig's hire.