Urijah Faber calls exit of Team Alpha Male coach Duane Ludwig 'a breath of fresh air'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Duane Ludwig's much celebrated tenure as head coach at Team Alpha Male will reach its end on Saturday, when he corners TUF 14 runner-up T.J. Dillashaw against bantamweight champion Renan Barao at UFC 173 in the hopes of securing a long-awaited UFC title -- the one accomplishment that has thus far eluded both Ludwig and the Sacramento based squad to great frustration.

Ludwig's farewell night marks a fitting end to his campaign at Team Alpha Male, where the 35-year-old garnered extensive critical acclaim since joining the gym as head coach in December 2012, but fell just short in title bids with Joseph Benavidez and Team Alpha Male founder Urijah Faber.

Appearing on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Faber reflected back fondly on Ludwig's time with the team, but also admitted that in regards to matters of business, the relationship between the two men sometimes suffered.

"Duane did a great job running his practice and he's passionate about his stuff. We implemented a lot of his drills during our set practices and it turned out great. But he was a little difficult to deal with here and there," Faber said. "And so actually it's kind of a breath of fresh air to have parted ways.

"And actually, since we made this announcement of him leaving, it's been the smoothest between he and I, in the business side of things, since he's been here."

Asked to elaborate on the occasional friction he and Ludwig felt, Faber responded, "You know what, Duane's a real emotional guy. So sometimes he's really, really happy, like excited, screaming around. Sometimes he's real serious. Sometimes he's emotional; he's been to tears in practice talking about things he's passionate about and talking to guys.

"So there was some friction here and there, but it was just very short-lived and kind of confusing, to be honest. Kind of friction, but then, like, not friction, so kind of up and down."

Win or lose, Ludwig is expected to return to his home in Denver, CO after UFC 173 to focus on growing his own gym's brand, BANG Muay Thai.

Aside from the trio of Faber, Dillashaw and Benavidez, Team Alpha Male is also the home to No. 1 featherweight contender Chad Mendes, UFC veteran Danny Castillo and TUF 18 winner Chris Holdsworth, making the squad's open coaching job perhaps the most high-profile of any available mixed martial arts coaching vacancies in the country.

Faber said that he expects the search to find a suitable replacement for Ludwig to likely be "a long process." Several candidates will be assessed for the position, although former UFC welterweight contender Martin Kampmann will be brought in to fill Ludwig's role in the interim, as both Mendes and Faber prepare for upcoming fights in the summer.

"Martin is going to come in just temporarily," Faber explained. "He's got some other job offers and some other interests. See how he feels, how we feel with him. It's more an immediate fix where we'll pay him to come in for a training camp and be a coach, and then we're still continuing to look. He may be a guy that we're considering. We've got a lot of interest.

"I feel like you've got to let a guy go where he wants to go," Faber added of Ludwig, "If he's not in the bigger picture of things and understanding being a part of what I'm trying to build for the long run. I'm relieved to have the opportunity to find someone that is more involved and more thinking about the big picture for my team, the team that I've been building for 11 years. So we're going to miss having [Ludwig] coach because he did a great job coaching, but I'm looking forward to having someone that is about the big picture for our team, which is multiple world champions for years and years and years to come."

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