Only in the UFC could a 6.06-second knockout work to save dogs in need of rescue.
Duane Ludwig, whose 2006 knockout of Jonathan Goulet in Las Vegas is the fastest in UFC history, hopes that the notoriety he gains from finally being acknowledged as the record-holder will help him to aid a dog-rescue operation in Colorado.
Ludwig knocked out Goulet in a fight on Spike TV in 2006 in a match that was incorrectly announced as an 11-second knockout. After Todd Duffee knocked out Todd Hague at UFC 102 in Portland, Ore., in seven seconds in 2009, it dawned on Ludwig that he ought to have the record.
He lobbied for several years to be recognized as the record-holder and shortly after Christmas, UFC president Dana White announced that the company would recognize Ludwig's mark as its record for fastest knockout.
White and UFC vice president Craig Borsari timed three fights. The Ludwig-Goulet fight lasted 6.06 seconds. The Duffee-Hague bout was 7.56 seconds and Chan Sung Jung's knockout of Mark Hominick on Dec. 10 at UFC 140 in Toronto was 6.26 seconds.
Ludwig, who fights Josh Neer on Friday in the co-main event of UFC on FX 1 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., had worked hard to get the record, in part because of his love of dogs.
"I'll be honest: It's history and it's a story I can tell my kids and grandkids when I'm older," he said. "Having a world record like that brings some attention and when you get more popularity, you're more famous and it opens doors. I love animals and maybe because of me being more famous, I can call attention to some of these dogs that need help."
Ludwig nearly didn't fight on that 2006 show, but an injury to another fighter prompted the UFC to contact him two weeks out to see if he'd take a fight. He was working as an electrician in Colorado and hadn't been training. But when he heard about the pay, he quickly accepted and began to train.
What he didn't say was that his left arm and shoulder were injured and he couldn't do much with them. But that wasn't all bad. Then-trainer Bas Rutten, the former UFC heavyweight champion, watched tapes of Goulet and told Ludwig to be ready to fire a counter right.
As the fight began, Goulet flicked a lazy left jab at Ludwig. Ludwig immediately countered with the right, as Rutten had urged, and Goulet fell face first to the mat. Before Ludwig could do anything, referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the match.
He collected his check and went home and forgot about the fight. But when a fuss was made over Duffee's knockout of Hague, it hit Ludwig that he was the rightful record-holder.
That led Ludwig to begin a campaign for the record. He had a Facebook petition going, but it wasn't until White was asked about it by MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani after Jung's knockout of Hominick that anything happened.
After timing it, White awarded the record to Ludwig, though the Nevada Athletic Commission said it did not have a mechanism in place to change the mark.
When Ludwig got the mark, he said one of the first things he wanted to do was to help a canine-rescue organization run by a friend in Colorado called the Pit Bull Bully Crew. Though it is designed to find homes for pit bulls, Ludwig said the group will rescue any at-risk dog it finds.
Ludwig said he has "several" dogs of his own, but wasn't willing to say how many. He said he loves their companionship and loyalty and said that makes him want to do whatever he can to help them.
"I've always been an advocate for animals, all animals," Ludwig said. "I really love dogs, though. Your dog will risk its life for you, if it has to, and usually over nothing. They don't have a voice and they need someone who will look out for them. If something good comes out of me getting that record, hopefully, it's helping these dogs."
He's had an on-and-off career because of a series of serious injuries. After suffering a ghoulish broken left leg in a March 21, 2010, bout against Darren Elkins, Ludwig was out for eight months. In his return at UFC 122 against Nick Osipczak on Nov. 13, 2010, he injured an elbow.
Then, he injured a sternum while preparing for a fight with Amir Sadollah and had to withdraw. He ultimately defeated Sadollah in August, though it was Ludwig's only bout of the year.
"I'd have rather fought more if I could have, but on the bright side, I made more money from that one fight than I did the whole year as an electrician," Ludwig said.
He said he's excited to fight Neer and one of his goals is to stay in control of his emotions and fight a smart, technical fight. "I want to be smart and in control and stick with the plan," he said. "But I also know me. I know when I get hit, I get [expletive] and I go for it."
If it leads to the kind of result he got against Goulet – and enables him to help more at-risk dogs – it won't be a bad thing if Ludwig gets tagged by Neer and the fight turns into a slugfest.
"When it is over, I guess what I want more than anything is for people to say, 'Hey, I really liked Ludwig's fight and I want to see him fight again,' " he said. "That's I guess the best thing that could happen."
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- Jonathan Goulet