Friday, August 23, 2013
Kampmann: Still one of the guys at the top
By Brett Okamoto
Martin Kampmann celebrated his seven-year anniversary as a UFC fighter this month. Seven years, man. Wow. What is that exactly -- 13, 14 fights?
“Sixteen,” Kampmann interrupts. “Sixteen fights.”
If Kampmann and Michael Bisping ever go out for beers, it’s easy to picture them hugging it out at least once over one brutal similarity. These two have fought consistently well for years in the Octagon but have yet to fight for the title.
How many times has Kampmann pictured a fight against reigning welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre? He can’t give an exact number. But bring it up and he stares at the ground like a kid describing what he’s wanted for the past five Christmases -- and is still waiting.
“I’d love to fight GSP. I’d ... “ He breaks sentence and shakes his head. “I know it wouldn’t be an easy fight, but I feel I could beat him. I’d love to get the chance to fight him -- very much.”
Despite a first-round knockout loss to Johny Hendricks in his last bout, Kampmann (20-6) feels that fight is within his grasp.
To an extent, the UFC must agree. It booked Kampmann to a main event fight against highly ranked Carlos Condit on Wednesday, at UFC Fight Night 27 in Indianapolis.
“I think a loss always sets you back, but I think I’m still one of the guys at the top,” Kampmann told ESPN.com. “I was calling out [Nick] Diaz and Condit. I want to fight those guys coming off losses who are still ranked real high.”
It’s not as though Kampmann gives off a sense of desperation to get to the title, but the veteran understands he’s not an up-and-coming prospect anymore.
Whereas he used to consistently travel to different gyms for different looks when living in Denmark -- including Sweden, Brazil and Thailand -- these days he remains relatively grounded thanks to his wife and two sons.
While younger fighters typically return to the gym quickly following a tough loss or a rough sparring session, Kampmann has been cognizant of the need to let his body heal in between fights.
Even though he’s still confident in his chin, Kampmann knows he’s now suffered four knockout losses in his career.
“Of course I’m worried [about that],” Kampmann said. “It’s not going to make me any smarter getting punched in the head, but that’s the sport. That’s the risk. I think after the [Jake] Ellenberger fight I took a long break. It’s definitely something I’ve gotten more aware of in my career.
“I feel I have a good chin. I’ve had a good chin my whole career. If you get rocked too many times, though, and don’t respect it, I think that’s the problem.”
This week’s bout against Condit (28-7) is a rematch of a bout that took place in April 2009 that resulted in a split decision victory for Kampmann.
Kampmann doesn’t have a long history of fighting opponents multiple times. It’s happened once, against British welterweight Matt Ewin. It went well for him.
“In the first fight, I got on top, elbowed him, and I think I broke his orbital bone,” Kampmann said. “He didn’t come out in the second round. The second fight, he shot in, I sprawled and started elbowing him again, and he tapped out.”
If Kampmann can be as successful in the second rematch of his career, he’ll be once again in striking distance of that Christmas he’s spent seven years working toward.