Coach Duane Ludwig says he's cool with Team Alpha Male – except Urijah Faber

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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC

One of MMA’s biggest rivalries – one that includes fighters and coaches – comes to a head tonight at UFC 217, but it’s unlikely to end there.

In the pay-per-view co-headliner at iconic Madison Square Garden in New York, bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (11-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) takes on former titleholder, past training partner and current rival T.J. Dillashaw (14-3 MMA, 10-3 UFC).

The bout features the two of the best 135-pounders – Garbrandt is No. 1 and Dillashaw is No. 3 in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA bantamweight rankings – but fans aren’t tuning in just for the competitive nature of the bout. After a week of trash-talk, accusations and social-media bickering, Garbrandt and Dillashaw fight for ultimate bragging rights.

One man who will have a front-row seat to the grudge match is former UFC fighter Duane Ludwig, the ex-head coach of Garbrandt’s home at Team Alpha Male. “Bang,” though, had a high-profile split with the camp and its founder, Urijah Faber, and the coach took former Team Alpha Male fighter Dillashaw with him.

It was an ugly divorce – one that played out very publicly. But Ludwig maintains he doesn’t have a problem with Team Alpha Male, and he said current coach Justin Buchholz is a “great” one. He’s still fond of those guys – with one notable exception.

“I love all those guys (at Team Alpha Male),” Ludwig told MMAjunkie Rado. “Let me say that – if you guys quote me on this, I love Team Alpha guys. It sucks that there’s drama.

“I had drama between Faber and I, and it’s carried over into the team now. But between the team and I, I love those (expletive) guys. I really do. We had a lot of great memories together, and it sucks to kind of be in this position. The drama is between Faber and I, and it’s spilled over into the team. But again, man, I love those guys.”

Ludwig said he didn’t work much with Garbrandt during his time at Team Alpha Male, though he does remember plenty of sparring sessions with the two, and he said he thinks Dillashaw had the upper hand.

As for tonight? A lot has changed in the past couple years, and both vets have likely evolved into new fighters. Still, Ludwig said, he’s confident with his game-planning.

“I feel like Cody is a pretty easy puzzle to solve,” he said. “But, you know, you can’t take anything for granted in this sport.”

At the sports books, Garbrandt is a nearly 2-1 favorite, but when bad blood is involved, you never quite know what to expect. And while Ludwig has mixed feelings about seeing two former students fight each other, there’s a silver lining.

“The fact they’re getting paid to spar on Saturday night – I mean, they used to spar all of the time for free,” Ludwig said. “Now, they’re going to get paid for it, and that’s an easier way to look at the situation.”

For more on UFC 217, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.

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Filed under: News, Radio Highlight, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie