Martin Kampmann: Chad Mendes is one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen
FAIRFAX — Former top welterweight contender Martin Kampmann will be in UFC Fight Night headliner Chad Mendes’ corner as a coach Saturday, after the first full camp the two have had together. The Dane striking and submission specialist moved from Las Vegas to Sacramento to work with Mendes and the rest of Team Alpha Male, after former head coach Duane Ludwig moved to Colorado to open his own gym.
Although one might expect there to be a major adjustment period when a fighter goes from one coach to another, Kampmann tells FOX Sports that it has been smooth transition because of his approach to teaching. "I don’t try to get fighters to learn my style, so Chad hasn’t had to adjust styles," he tells us in the fighter hotel lobby, shortly after Mendes and the rest of the UFC Fairfax roster of competitors made weight, Friday.
"A good coach has to look at what an athlete has and help them make the most of it. Chad was already doing so well before, and we’ve worked on sharpening different things together."
Though Mendes has fellow former world title challenger Ricardo Lamas up next, Saturday in the UFC Fight Night Fairfax main event, his coach believes that he could not just vie once more for a championship, but win it. Mendes has twice faced featherweight champ Jose Aldo.
In 2012 he lost via sudden first-round KO, at the last second of the period. Last year, the two met again in one of the best rematches in MMA history.
Mendes fought Aldo close for five rounds, but the Brazilian left the fight with his title belt, though battered. Kampmann believes that Mendes has yet to even hit his full potential, and that if he fights Aldo again, he can beat him.
"I think he’s capable of beating Aldo," he tells us.
"It was such a close fight the last time, and Chad gets better every day. He improves so fast, and he’s one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen in MMA."
One of the areas where Mendes has improved the most is with his stand-up striking. Kampmann discussed the wrestler’s dangerous level change uppercut, explained by Kenny Florian in the latest Bread ‘n’ Butter technique video (below), and agreed that his versatility makes "Money" more unpredictable and dangerous.
"That [level change uppercut] is something that he’s been great at for awhile, now, and so it’s one of the things I’ve worked on with him a lot since we started training together," he admits.
"He’s so explosive and has such great wrestling that people have to watch out for the takedowns. His striking is good as well, so they have to watch out for the punches now, too. You can defend one, or the other, but you can’t defend both at the same time."