Duane Ludwig was hoping the back and forth between him and Urijah Faber was over. As it turns out, it was just heating up.
Faber, the patriarch of Team Alpha Male, went on the offensive Monday on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, accusing Ludwig of many things -- from shady financial dealings to bullying to sexism.
In an interview with MMA Fighting on Monday evening, Ludwig denied Faber's multiple assertions and said it is still his desire to keep a professional relationship with his team. It has been more than a year since Ludwig departed as coach of Team Alpha Male to start his own gym in Colorado.
One of Faber's most serious claims was that Ludwig was a bully and sometimes it involved race. Faber told Helwani that Ludwig used to joke with the black members of the gym that they had to get to the back of line. Ludwig denied that he ever made anyone uncomfortable from a racial standpoint.
"I don't know what the hell he's talking about," Ludwig said. "There's jokes floating around the gym all the time. For him to point me out, like what the hell dude?"
Faber also said that Ludwig refused to train female fighters at their gym like Paige VanZant, because he didn't believe in women's MMA. Ludwig doesn't completely refute that.
"I wouldn't say I'm against women's MMA," Ludwig said. "I do feel uneasy seeing a woman get punched in the face. That, I don't like. Women's grappling and wrestling, that's cool. But seeing a woman punched in the face, I don't really necessarily like that. There's awesome women's fights, but it still makes me feel a bit weird. But yeah, I don't like to train women."
Faber's biggest issues with Ludwig seemed to be financial. He said Ludwig never officially signed a contract with Team Alpha Male, but constantly complained about how much he was getting paid -- even though Faber said he made double what he was originally promised. Faber said Ludwig was under the impression that Faber was going to help him get sponsors, though Faber said that was never promised.
Faber also recalled cases of Ludwig attempting to "shake down" multiple people for money, including Faber's managers and his partners with the clothing brand Torque. Faber said Ludwig also accused him of hiding UFC discretionary bonuses from him.
Ludwig said for some reason every time he felt like he agreed on something with Faber things would change afterward. "Bang" believes Faber's biggest issue with him is that Ludwig did not mind calling him out, which no one else in the gym does.
"I think he's got a lot going on," Ludwig said. "He doesn't quite keep tabs on the things that he says and things get lost in the shuffle. He's in the position where no one really questions him. I've been around him for two years and no one really questions him. It's his show, except for when it comes to me. If something that was supposed to happen doesn't happen, then I'm going to ask you about that. That goes for anybody.
"He does great on the mic, but he might be just a little bit punchy. And I'm not trying to talk crap or whatever. But he gets cracked hard with a lot of shots and I don't think that helps, either. When you tell me you're gonna do something, I expect that. It's called being a man of your word."
Faber brought up another incident when he said Ludwig physically confronted a UFC executive over a miscommunication regarding tickets. Faber said he had to talk the official out of reporting Ludwig's actions, which could have led to the coach being banned from events.
Ludwig said the UFC exec was former WEC head Reed Harris and that Faber made it all seem more serious than it really was.
"We figured that out," Ludwig said. "Me and Reed are cool. That was a total misunderstanding. I actually talked with Reed about that, too, and we squashed that."
In an interview with FOX Sports last week, Ludwig apologized to Faber and Team Alpha Male over all the drama and expressed his wishes to drop the hard feelings. "Bang" reiterated the same thing Monday, even after hearing Faber's comments.
"F*ck it," Ludwig said. "I don't even care about it anymore. What really matters is the team operating at their full potential and that happens when we work together. Anything that disrupts that is just bullsh*t.
"I'm not too worried about what he says about me, because I don't think a lot of it is true. Who's getting hurt is the f*cking teammates. I want to make sure that avenue for me to help them and for us to work together is still there. And I see that getting smaller and smaller with these bumps in the road."
Ludwig believes Faber is levying these accusations against him now, because he fears some of Faber's fighters could leave to join him in Colorado. UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and Danny Castillo still train regularly with Ludwig. "Bang" said he has a good relationship with everyone at Alpha Male except Faber.
The beef all seems to stem from issues with money.
"We definitely had a couple lapses," Ludwig said. "Every time we talked I thought one thing was said and then apparently something else was said. So there's multiple times when we had what I thought were agreements and the result was always me getting short-handed. I don't get it. That's why we always had problems, because we always had a conversation, we'd agree on certain things and when it came time for certain things to happen, they wouldn't.
"It comes from him never being questioned and then me questioning him. Like, what the hell? I'm telling you. He's the man, especially in Sacramento. No one questions him. Whatever he says goes. That's not just how I operate. I think we're all equal and if someone says they're gonna do something, then they need to follow through and do it just like I am. Just like everyone else should be doing."