Interview: Urijah Faber talks state of Team Alpha Male, Replacing Duane 'Bang' Ludwig

Photo by Paolo Tabuena

In Part 2 of BloodyElbow.com's interview with Urijah Faber, the 'California Kid' talks about the state of Team Alpha Male, and finding a replacement for Duane 'Bang' Ludwig.

One of the biggest stories of 2013 was Team Alpha Male's resurgence, with several of their top fighters going on impressive runs in the UFC. A big part of that uprising was credited by many to the hiring of Duane Ludwig to coach the team and help fine tune some portions of their MMA game.

Just after a year with the team, and 'Bang' will be leaving Team Alpha Male to start his own gym in Colorado. Urijah Faber was in the Philippines for a PR tour in the country, and he spoke about the change.

"I think it's good," Faber told Bloody Elbow, "There was a lot of publicity that came with that whole thing with Duane, but this team has been building for 11 years now. We were looking for a coach, and he came in and everyone made a big deal about it. We learned a lot from him, and from his style, but we need someone that is invested in the long term."

"It wasn't anything really. We never signed a contract or anything," Faber said of his agreement with Ludwig, "No (I wasn't surprised he wasn't here long term), not once I got him in the area. He's got his own mind, and has his own agendas, so I completely understand it. It was an opportunity for him to get exposure that he really needed, but it is what it is, really."

Ludwig said in an interview with Steph Daniels of Bloody Elbow, that he would still be available on an 'as needed' basis, but with his departure set to happen by May, Faber and the rest of the team have begun the long process of narrowing down prospects for a new coach that's in for the long term.

"There's a lot of candidates for a replacement. We have like 20-plus now," Faber said, "Since I've been here in the Philippines I haven't really had the chance to focus on that yet. I have a list of everybody we are looking at, but we are going to take our time. There's no rush."

"A lot of people don't know, is that we've had the same structure in the team for a long time. When we brought a coach in, it was us adapting him to our system. So we'll continue our system, figure out the best fit when we bring someone in."

Related: Contrary to reports, Team Alpha Male's Paige Vanzant wont be in TUF 20

Team Alpha Male has also recently hosted fighters from other countries to train with them, including some of Japan's brightest young prospects in newly signed UFC fighter Michinori Tanaka (9-0), and fellow bantamweight rising star, Yuta Sasaki (16-1-2).

"The Japanese fighters have all been very tough when they come in," he states, "I think athletically sometime they're not as competitive with some of the guys we have on our team, but we have a really gifted team athletically in Chad Mendes, Joseph Benavidez, Lance Palmer, and those guys. But technically, they're always really sound, always have a really cool style for us to check out. Different styles of striking, different styles of submissions. It's good stuff."

Training with those Asian stars seems like a perfect fit for the team, with most top fighters competing at similar weight classes, but having completely different styles from the core of Team Alpha Male.

"We have a set up at our gym, where people can come in and be a part of it," he said about how these Japanese fighters started training with the team from time to time, "So it's one of those things, where if they show interest, we all work to make it happen, so it's fairly simple."

"I wouldn't mind more Asian fighters, but what I usually don't do is actively go out and recruit people. I do recruit as far as looking for talent, but I don't really bring people into our camp because it's a hard life. So if you're convincing someone to come in, and they don't like it, I don't want to be that guy. People visit us, and if they fit in and they like it, then they come back, but I would love to have more of an Asian influence as well on our team."

Apart from the group of fighters who cross train with them from time to time, Team Alpha Male also has a burgeoning roster of young talented prospects. When asked which fighters we should keep an eye on, he had a handful of prospects he expects to make it big soon.

"There's the guys who you already see like T.J. Dillashaw, Chris Holdsworth, and Andre Fili that are new guns in the UFC, but we have a whole host of other guys," he said, as he talked about the rising stars in the team, "Cody Garbrandt is an up and coming guy, and he's very tough. There's also Vince Murdock. There's this kid, Erick Sanchez, who's really really tough, and Alex Sandoval. We've got a ton of guys, up and coming, and there's a lot of younger guys who are still amateurs that you guys are going to see."

If you missed Part 1 of our interview with Urijah Faber, check it out here, where he talks about his bouts against Renan Barao, Dillashaw's title shot, his goals, and Team Alpha Male eventually holding UFC gold.

Follow me on twitter -- @antontabuena

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