Kampmann locks horns with Thiago
Octagonside by Anthony Springer, Jr.
UFC 111 came and went. Georges St-Pierre successfully defended his title against Dan Hardy and the world kept spinning.
UFC 112, 113 and 114 also came and went. And while numerous fighters taped up their fists and entered the Octagon for caged combat, Martin “Hitman” Kampmann (16-3) watched it all from the sidelines.
Kampmann was scheduled to square off against fellow striker Ben “Killa B” Saunders in a highly anticipated UFC 111 bout. After suffering a nasty cut in training camp the Danish fighter was to bow out. Hindsight is always 20/20 and Kampmann acknowledges that he could’ve fought against Saunders. In another lifetime, Kampmann probably would’ve taken the fight.
But part of fighting in the UFC is fighting smart; taking a bout against a striker like Saunders after a cut is the opposite of fighting smart.
“For sure I could’ve fought, but I don’t know what would happen if I got hit,” Kampmann recounts. “If I got hit near the eye brow it could’ve opened right up. The doctor said it would’ve opened up on impact. With that perspective, I don’t think it was a good idea to fight.”
The extended layoff gave Kampmann some extra time in the gym to work some kinks out of his game. Namely his temper.
Kampann admits difficulty keeping his wits after taking a big shot in a fight. And while his impressive 16-3 record says he more often than not gets the better of those exchanges, that was far from the case when Kampmann locked horns with former UFC fighter Paul Daley at UFC 103.
Daley caught Kampann with some big shots early and proceeded to keep the pressure on. Instead of taking time to recover, Kampann stood toe to toe with Daley—the fight ended 2:31 into the opening stanza with the referee diving in to save Kampann from a flurry of Daley strikes.
“If I get hit, I get pissed off; I want to get the other guy back,” he says. “Sometimes when you’ve got these four ounce gloves on, it’s not the smartest thing to do. Sometimes it’s best to take a step back and get your composure. I’ve gotten better at doing that in training, hopefully I’ll get better in the fight as well.”
Kampmann will need all the composure he can get heading into Saturday’s bout with rising star Paulo Thiago. A virtual unknown before entering the UFC, Thiago stunned many in the world of fighting in victories over current 170-pound number one contended Josh Koscheck and Mike “Quick” Swick.
A win over Thiago will place Kampmann’s name in a conversation of the best welterweights in the world, a thought that isn’t lost on the 28-year-old.
“It’s a great matchup,” he says of Thiago. “He’s ranked real high and I’m happy to fight a guy ranked that high. It’s going to propel me after I beat him.
“I think Thiago is a higher rank than [Ben] Saunders. The risk is up and so is the reward. No disrespect to Saunders.”
With more risk for a potentially bigger reward, Kampmann knows the rankings aren’t always accurate indicators of a fight’s outcome. On paper, he sees the contest nearly neck and neck.
But of course, when asked about the edge, he gives the advantage to himself.
“I feel like I match up with him really well,” he says, mentally breaking down the bout. “I’m not scared to go to the ground with him, not scared to strike with him and I’m not scared to wrestle with him.”