It wasn’t long ago that Martin Kampmann was a top 10 ranked welterweight, gunning for the top of the division. Now with his career on hold following a litany of injuries to his body, he’s quickly become one of the most sought after coaches in the sport as well.
Kampmann’s name popped up several weeks ago as a possible replacement for Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento when he opted to leave the gym to pursue his own endeavors back home with his family in Colorado.
Ludwig’s success coaching Team Alpha Male let all the fighters know that with his exit they were going to need another leader in the gym to help keep the ball rolling. Kampmann came through as a guest coach, and the team responded well to him during his week spent in Sacramento.
Now with Ludwig transitioning out of the team, Kampmann is back in Sacramento and likely closing in on a deal to become the new full time head coach at Team Alpha Male. For now, Kampmann is focused on one objective — getting team captain Urijah Faber ready for his fight on July 5, and then a final decision will be made about his permanent position.
"I’m just out here for Urijah’s camp, that’s what I’ve committed to so far and we’re going to see if we’re a fit, and then we’re going to work something out after," Kampmann told FOX Sports. "Right now, I’m just out here helping Urijah for his camp and of course running team practices and helping everyone else get ready for their fights and help them get better as martial artists."
I think as far as my head I’ve had too many concussions, back-to-back, where I was pushing through and taking fights that I should have pulled out of and that can mess you up a little bit. Now I’m taking a break, no sparring, and that’s making me feel better
— Martin Kampmann
The timing couldn’t have worked out any better for Kampmann to slide in as coach of Team Alpha Male considering his own desire to take a step back from active competition after a slew of injuries mounted and his body wasn’t recovering as speedy as it once did. Kampmann also points to multiple head injuries during his career and fighting while still feeling the effects of concussions as a big part of the reason why he was scared straight and no longer wants to take chances with his body.
A return to fighting is still possible, but coaching allows Kampmann to stay busy, keep in fight shape and remain a part of a major MMA camp at the same time.
"It just worked out right now that I was taking a break and I was actively pursuing getting into more coaching. I’ve always been coaching at (Xtreme) Couture from time to time. It’s something that I should have done a couple of fights earlier. I was pushing through a lot of injuries my last couple of fights, and I wish I would have done this earlier," Kampmann said. "You can’t change that, but now I’m taking a much needed break and pursuing the opportunities and having fun coaching the guys out here.
"I think as far as my head I’ve had too many concussions, back-to-back, where I was pushing through and taking fights that I should have pulled out of and that can mess you up a little bit. Now I’m taking a break, no sparring, and that’s making me feel better."
Once Kampmann made the commitment to coaching, his name started swirling around several high profile MMA gyms looking for an experienced leader to step in and fill an open vacancy. While the former top 10 ranked welterweight was openly pursued by Team Alpha Male, other gyms such as Power MMA & Fitness in Arizona — home to UFC fighters Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway — were also interested in acquiring Kampmann’s services.
It immediately made Kampmann look at all the factors when choosing the team he wanted to work with and right now it’s the crew in Sacramento at Team Alpha Male.
"Coaching is something I’ve always wanted to go over to especially like with the guys we have out here at Team Alpha Male. Just a bunch of studs," Kampmann said. "They’re here to learn and I’m here to kick ass."
As far as following Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig as head coach if he eventually moves into that position, Kampmann isn’t worried about comparisons or living up to the model he set while leading the team in California. Kampmann believes Ludwig did a phenomenal job so he’s looking at this as a chance to carry on the legacy, not something he has to live up to when and if he becomes coach.
He also knows above all else that his style is different than Ludwig’s so he wants to take Team Alpha Male under his wings and show them how they can win under the Kampmann coaching program.
"Duane’s done an awesome job here at Alpha Male at sharpening up people’s striking. I have a different approach to some of the things, but whatever I feel is good, I implement that into my own coaching," Kampmann said. "I do things a little different, but I try to take things that I like and make it apply as a coach.
"I have my own style of coaching and it’s been doing a good job. I don’t consider myself a striking coach, I consider myself an MMA coach. I have a solid all around game and I like to cater everything towards MMA."
Kampmann will continue to lead team practices until Faber’s fight at UFC 175 in Las Vegas against Alex Caceres. The longtime welterweight contender will be in Faber’s corner for the fight, hoping to help lead him to victory as he takes another step forward in the UFC bantamweight division.