The Five Fights That Made Martin Kampmann
(Nate Marquardt measures Kampmann at UFC 88)
by FIGHT! contributor Larry Pepe
Martin Kampmann is one of the top welterweights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s stacked 170-pound division. He was getting preparing to fight Mike Swick at UFC 103 to determine the number one contender and the right to take on division kingpin, Georges St-Pierre. But Swick suffered a concussion while training for the fight and had to pull out just over two weeks from the event. That fight had the potential to be yet another turning point in the Hitman’s career. Instead, he’ll face the UFC’s latest British acquisition, Paul Daley.
There’s no predicting what UFC matchmaker Joe Silva will do with Kampmann following a win or a loss, but an impressive victory over the explosive British striker won’t hurt his chances of challenging for GSP’s belt. Let’s take a look at the five fights that led to Kampmann knocking on the UFC welterweight championship door.
When Kampmann came over to the United States in the summer of 2006 to stay with his good friend Mike Pyle and train in Sin City, he had no intention of adding to his 8-1 MMA record before returning home, and Edwin Aguilar probably had no idea who he was. Aguilar was set to face Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons at the one and only event put on by the World Fighting Alliance, entitled “King of the Streets” (where was Kimbo for that one?). Pele got injured and Kampmann was offered the fight on a whopping two days notice. Short notice or not, Aguilar was no match for the Hitman, who landed a few heavy shots that put Aguilar on the mat and caused the referee to save him from further punishment at 2:43 of the first round. The UFC took notice of his performance and promptly signed him to a three-fight deal.
Kampmann was scheduled to return home to Denmark on August 17th, just 3 ½ weeks after his win over Aguilar. One problem. That was the same day that UFC Fight Night 6 was taking place and the UFC was so impressed with Kampmann’s performance on July 22 that when Kalib Starnes withdrew from his fight with Crafton Wallace due to injury they asked Kampmann to make his debut on that card. “The Hitman” changed his plane ticket and made Wallace tap to a rear naked choke at 2:59 of the first round.
In what he calls the toughest fight he’s ever had, Kampmann scored a unanimous decision win over Thales Leites who later went on to defeat Nate Marquardt (largely due to a point deduction to Marquardt following an illegal slam) and challenge Anderson Silva for the middleweight strap. At the time of the fight, Kampmann was still going to engineering school full-time and training. This fight made him decide to put his schooling on hold. “I went back to school and finished the semester and then devoted myself to fighting. Before that I was putting 50% of my energy into school and 50% into fighting. I wanted to see what I could do putting 100% into MMA.”
In Kampmann’s last fight at 185 he suffered a first-round TKO loss to Marquardt at UFC 88. “I really felt that I could have done much better in that fight and I’d like to fight him again someday.” Kampmann made the move to welterweight after this fight, a division that seems much better suited for his frame and ultimate success. “Before I came to the U.S. I never really cut weight for a fight. There were guys at Xtreme Couture who fought at 155 who walked around bigger than me when they weren’t preparing for a fight,” Kampmann said. “Here, everyone cuts weight, so it made more sense for me to do the same and make the move to 170.”
Kampmann’s first fight at 170 was against UFC rookie Alexandre Barros. The fight marked Kampmann’s first bout after suffering a major knee injury and resulted in a second round TKO victory for “The Hitman.” However, his next fight against the last WEC Welterweight Champion, Carlos Condit, put him on the welterweight map. Condit came into the fight on an eight fight win streak that spanned more than two-and-a-half years and was widely regarded as one of the top five welterweights in the world. In a tight, back-and-forth battle, Kampmann pulled out a split decision victory and put himself squarely in the mix for a title shot.
FIGHT! contributor Larry Pepe featured Kampmann on the Sept. 7 edition of Pro MMA Radio.