Duane Ludwig accepts coaching role

Updated: December 13, 2012, 6:11 PM ET
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

Veteran mixed martial artist Duane Ludwig has accepted the position of head coach at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif., perhaps marking the end of a professional career that started in 2000.

Ludwig, 34, will oversee the camp and create game plans for a stable of fighters that includes Urijah Faber, Joseph Benavidez and Chad Mendes, among others.

"I know too much not to teach," Ludwig told ESPN.com. "I've never just been a dumb fighter. I feel like I have a good head on my shoulders. I've been teaching since I was 19. People have always come to me for advice over the years.

"I've paid attention to how the body works and I'm glad I did that, because now I have this opportunity."

Ludwig will replace Thonglor "Mater Thong" Armatsena, a longtime staple of the Sacramento-based gym.

Ludwig (21-14) is on a three-fight losing streak in the UFC. He lost a bout against Che Mills in September, when he tore his left ACL during the first round.

The Denver-based fighter, who is planning a move to Sacramento in January, will undergo knee surgery next week. Ludwig stopped just short of formally announcing his retirement, but said the procedure will keep him sidelined for at least one year.

"I've been fighting the last few years with a roller coaster of emotions," Ludwig said. "If I had the opportunity a couple years ago to step away financially, I probably would have, but I couldn't afford to step away.

"I'll take a year off and see where my heart lies. I've been looking for motivation to push me in the sport, and when you start doing that, it becomes an issue."

Bad luck has played its part in Ludwig's financial hardship, as the fighter admits he's lived paycheck to paycheck throughout his career and even maintained a second job as an electrician "90 percent of my career."

Twice, he was the recipient of the infamous UFC fight night bonus, however each of them occurred before the award consisted of thousands of dollars as it does now.

He was given a $500 bonus for a first-round knockout of Jonathan Goulet in 2006, which the UFC recognizes as the fastest knockout in its history. Following a hard-fought decision win over Genki Sudo in 2003, the promotion gave Ludwig an Xbox.

Years ago, any dreams of winning the UFC title changed to dreams of paying off his mortgage and providing security to his wife and two children. Facing the prospect of a year with no fight checks, the offer from Alpha Male came at a good time.

"For me, there was a lot of pressure," Ludwig said of his recent fights. "You always want to win but waiting for that decision to be read, I would think, 'I need to win this fight, financially.'

"I've never made great money. I always tried to shoot for that bonus to get my life back on track, and it just hasn't happened. I've always done everything I could do, just had a run of bad luck."

Ludwig's overall mark in the UFC rests at 4-5. His career has seen him face some of the biggest names in the sport, including Jens Pulver and BJ Penn.

The official recorded time of his knockout against Goulet is 11 seconds, however the UFC declared in 2011 it had timed the fight at 6.06 seconds, which gave Ludwig the unofficial fastest knockout record.

"I'll take that," Ludwig said. "I think it's a good accomplishment. When I get older, hopefully it's still around or at least in the top five. It will be cool for my kids when they get older."