When a seemingly “bad guy” turns “good” in the world of professional wrestling, the process is described as going from “heel” to “face.” The villain now becomes a beloved figurehead and the boos from the crowd suddenly turn to cheers.
Lex Ludlow, a professional mixed martial artist who dabbled briefly in the sports entertainment industry, was often referred to as a “heel” in Pennsylvania’s regional MMA circuit. The only problem with the association was that it carried over into real-life and tempers flared.
“I wasn’t happy with how my actions were upsetting people,” Ludlow told MyMMANews. “I was upsetting a lot of people. It was an act but I got too carried away with it. I had UFC fighters getting in my face, having issues with me,” he said.
The purpose for my interview with Lex was to talk about his new found home in Martinez BJJ, but the discussion led to much more. The sincerity in Ludlow’s voice could not go undetected. It wasn’t long ago that I too was one of the many who wrote Ludlow off. The ego or the character he portrayed simply had gone too far out of control.
“I won the amateur title and I saw that what I was doing was getting people talking,” Ludlow said. “I was just an amateur but everyone in the area was talking about me. I got offered a pro fight, a nice purse for my first pro fight. My second fight, the purse went up. Third fight, purse went up.”
In the day and age where controversy sells and fighters are rewarded for selling tickets, Ludlow’s thought process was that “the more I do, the more attention I will get.” It made sense, but how long could the shtick last?
“It’s kind of hard to talk shit when you are 0-3,” Ludlow said. “Eventually you are just talking to yourself, and you look stupid.”
Ludlow realized the error in his ways and decided it was time to make a change.
Still a young man, with a lot of maturing to do, the 25-year old Ludlow would learn that he will soon become a father. At the time of the interview he had told me that the baby was actually past due, and he is expecting to welcome “Presley” (named after Elvis) into the world at any given moment.
“I realize that years down the road she is going to be able to use the internet or YouTube and see some of the stuff said or written about me,” Ludlow said. “I don’t want to be that guy.”
Along with the added responsibility of becoming a fighter, and the realization that the gimmick just wasn’t working anymore, Ludlow also came to understand that he would need to change gyms if he wanted to progress in the sport.
“I’ve trained at most every gym in Philadelphia,” Ludlow said. “I texted my friend Matt Hill about going to train at Martinez BJJ.”
Ludlow says he wasn’t sure that he would be accepted into the gym at first, knowing that some of the fighters and coaches weren’t fond of his antics.
“Matt told me to come in on a Tuesday, and I did, and man it was the hottest gym I’ve ever been it. I was just drenched. I knew at that moment that it was going to be a great gym to train at,” Ludlow said.
The experience unfolded in Ludlow’s head just the way he had envisioned it. He admits that gym owner Will Martinez was a bit standoffish at first, not sure of why Lex was even there to begin with.
“There was a rumor going around that I wanted to fight his brother Chavo. I did say that, but it wasn’t in a disrespectful way. It was like one of those things you say as in a goal you want to accomplish. Will and Chavo are the guys in Philly. I wanted to aspire to get to the point where I could get that opportunity. Once I had explained the situation, things were better,” he said.
The purpose for Ludlow’s move to Martinez BJJ came to be because he felt he was not getting the proper treatment that he needed to receive in order to advance in the sport.
“I didn’t matter to the coaches at my old gym until it was fight week. That was when they would put in the work. The rest of the time you were just a name and they were receiving a paycheck.”
Ludlow says that the environment at Martinez BJJ is a complete 180 degree turn in the opposite direction.
“I feel like I have a team now. They are like a family. I mean, what that crap went down with (Jon) Tuxford, Will had my back. I didn’t expect that.”
Ludlow is referring to last’s month fight cancellation where he was slated to fight Jon Tuxford in a light heavyweight contest for Art of War. Tuxford came in overweight and the fight was eventually removed from the card. Martinez took to social media to ensure that his fighter (Ludlow) would receive his show money. (There never was any indication that the promoter would not pay Ludlow, but the post showed a commitment and bond between coach and student; a show of support and respect)
Although the fight was removed from the card, Ludlow felt the team and new found home at Martinez BJJ prepared him well-enough that he would have got the job done.
He is confident the fight will be rebooked for May 11, Art of War’s next card in Philadelphia.
“I hope he will make the weight,” Ludlow said. “He’s mentally weak. It sounded like he was crying when he called to tell me that he wasn’t going to make weight. He only had a few pounds to go but he chose to break and quit than to keep trying. He’s a nice guy, but he’s mentally weak. And when you go out and fight the way he fights, you lose.”
The fight has not yet officially been announced for Art of War 12. The card is headlined by a middleweight bout between Chavo Martinez and Eric Roncoroni.