Urijah Faber jumped the gun on the future Team Alpha Male head coaching vacancy, according to current head coach Duane Ludwig.
"It wasn’t f-----g supposed to be like this, man,” Ludwig told MMA Junkie. "I’m not going to bounce on anybody’s fight camp. Then [Faber] f-----g went and told the team and did a press release before I knew. I’m like, ‘What the hell?’”
The pairing of Team Alpha Male and Ludwig was a match made in heaven a little more than a year ago. Faber, Joseph Benavidez, Chad Mendes and T.J. Dillashaw were already world-class fighters before joining forces with Ludwig, but the subtleties taught by the muay thai specialist took an already elite camp to the next level.
Finishing rates increased dramatically, and title shots were handed out. To put it mildly, business was good. Team Alpha Male received every bit the “bang” for its buck in hiring Ludwig, which is why the MMA world was surprised to learn of the breakup during Wednesday’s episode of UFC Tonight.
MMA journalist Ariel Helwani revealed on the show that Ludwig would be parting ways with the team after serving a year-and-a-half as head coach. According to the report, he would continue his head coaching duties until May 24, when the position would be given to someone else.
The official Team Alpha Male website has already put out a job ad, seeking to fill the position.
For Ludwig, the media storm of his departure from the team came as a shock. He confided in Faber, Team Alpha Male's leader, that he intended to move on and do his own thing someday, but there was never an actual timetable involved.
“That’s why it was a bit sudden, because I was just giving Urijah the heads up; I didn’t really have much planned. I think he kind of jumped [the gun],” said Ludwig.
The decision to bring in a new head coach isn’t an easy process, and Ludwig had no plans of ditching fighters in the middle of their training camps. He had hoped to stick it out with the team until they found a viable replacement.
Unfortunately, Faber’s announcement expedited the process.
Ludwig has enjoyed a long and successful fighting career, but there comes a time and place in life when a person needs to be his own man. Thanks to the success of Team Alpha Male, Ludwig finally has an opportunity to start his own business and build a new life through coaching. He told MMA Junkie:
I’ve been working for other businesses since I was 15, and it’s just time I do my own thing, man. I gave Sacramento a year-and-a-half of my life and coaching. If I got hurt on this job, I would have no more income. There’s no residual income here, and I’m just at the point in my life where I’ve got to set up a residual business for myself.
I’m still working paycheck to paycheck. I’ve got to set up a business; that’s just the smartest move. Plus, Colorado’s home. I’ve got to get my family back and get my life situated again. I’ve got to be smart about my finances, and right now, this isn’t a smart thing to do.
His decision to part ways with Team Alpha Male doesn’t mean he plans on completely severing ties with the Sacramento-based camp. He fully intends on inviting some of the fighters to train at his gym and traveling back to California to do seminars.
Duane "Bang" Ludwig is out as coach of Team Alpha effective May 24. (more on this in a second).— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) March 19, 2014
Things may not have ended the way he initially hoped, but he harbors no hard feelings toward Faber and the rest of the team.
In a way, he seems grateful to have been given an opportunity to hone the skills of young fighters.
“I’m still going to have an open window for them to come train with me and to bring me out for training camps and seminars and stuff,” said Ludwig. “They’re still going to be an affiliate of mine with the ‘Bang Muay Thai System.’ It’s just time to open my own business.”
Faber did not respond to a call requesting a comment.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.