Even the most experienced fighters in the world can benefit from a change in approach.

On Aug. 14, Duane “Bang” Ludwig is out to prove just that as he takes on Amir Sadollah at UFC Live 5 in Milwaukee.

The pair were originally slated to collide at March’s Ultimate Fight Night 24 event in Seattle, but Ludwig was forced out of the fight due to a painful sternum injury.

“I’ve never had to pull out of a fight,” explained the veteran of nearly 100 kickboxing and MMA fights.  “It was a freak accident during sparring.  It was one of the most painful injuries I’ve ever had.”

After a few months off to heal, Ludwig decided to change the focus of his training, from his opponent, to himself.  “Bang” spoke to The MMA Corner about the new philosophy and how it will lead to victory against Sadollah.

“The first fight, I was training specifically for Amir,” acknowledged the Denver-based welterweight.  “I realized that until that bell actually rings, you never know what could happen.  Your opponent could change.    So I just focused on training myself to get better as a mixed martial artist.  I love learning every day and sharing the knowledge that I possess.”

One area where Ludwig is likely to hold a significant advantage is in the striking department.  The former K-1 MAX USA and I.S.K.A. Muay Thai light middleweight world champion is one of the most decorated stand-up fighters in the sport.  That doesn’t mean that he is taking Sadollah lightly.

Duane Ludwig (MMA Junkie)

“Striking is all about split seconds and fractions of an inch.  And with that in mind, anything can happen,” Ludwig openly admitted.  “He’s been doing really well, training in Holland with the best kickboxers in the world.  He’s looked better in every fight.”

In addition to his improved striking, Sadollah is also a Sambo black belt.  This has led to oddsmakers declaring the former winner of The Ultimate Fighter the favorite.  But with Ludwig’s new approach, it’s hardly a concern.

“My focus is what I can control, not what my opponent is doing,” declared Ludwig.  “And I don’t care what other people’s realities of me are.  I don’t even look at rankings.”

Ludwig has faced a gauntlet of opponents in his storied career, including BJ Penn, Jens Pulver, Takanori Gomi and kickboxing superstars Masato and Malaipet.  Although the majority of those bouts took place at lightweight, Ludwig is now comfortable in the 170-pound division.

“I’ve been walking around at 190-195 pounds for the past 2-3 years,” Ludwig said.  “It was always a tough cut to get to 155, but now I’m doing strength and conditioning and have a good diet.  I’m a solid 170 now.  It allows me to focus on being a better athlete when I’m in the gym, rather than killing myself to make 155.  I don’t have to think about how much weight or calories I just burned.”

One of the most dramatic cuts Ludwig remembers was in 2008 against the aforementioned Gomi.  Ludwig was slated to compete on the Sengoku card, but last-minute shuffling saw him facing the former Pride champion.

“I would love to do that fight again,” Ludwig admitted.  “I took that fight on short notice when I was supposed to be fighting at 170.  I was a bad matchup for him, but the doctors stopped the fight.  The cut was below my eye and wasn’t obstructing my vision.  I saw it as an early stoppage.”

After a handful more fights in the lightweight division, Ludwig’s return to welterweight took place at UFC 122 in November of last year against Nick Osipczak.  The fight was a culmination of a tumultuous year for the veteran.  In March, Ludwig broke his ankle in a fight against Darren Elkins.  Back healthy, Ludwig and Osipczak battled back and forth, with Ludwig claiming a decision victory.

“It was good comeback fight for me since I had just come off the (ankle) injury and my baby was just born while I was in Germany.  It was a little bit emotional,” recalled Ludwig, who openly wept in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.  “It told me a little bit more about myself.”

On Aug. 14, Ludwig looks to learn more about himself by making Sadollah the first to fall victim to his new approach to fighting.

Top Photo: Duane Ludwig (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

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