The welterweight division is experiencing a new wave of competition rattling the establishment, and Martin Kampmann plans to be one of the last men standing when the dust settles.
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The Danish fighter has held steady as one of the division’s top fighters, and despite successive losses by decision to Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez, Kampmann’s profile as one of the top 170-pound fighters remains intact.
“The Hitman” was able to get back to his winning ways against rising star Rick Story and looks to continue his run toward the top by defeating fellow upper-tier mainstay Thiago Alves when they square off Saturday in the main event of UFC on FX in Sydney, Australia. Not only does Kampmann intend to claim victory over the always-game Alves, but he vows to keep things out of the judges’ hands by ending the fight in impressive fashion.
“I’m going to finish this fight,” Kampmann told HeavyMMA. “I’m tired of these decisions, and I’m going to finish Thiago. He’s a tough guy and he’s beaten some of the best fighters in the welterweight division. He’s defeated Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck — and I definitely believe he’s one of the better fighters in the weight class.
“I think it’s a good matchup. We both like to strike and mix it up. I believe having well-rounded skills will be a factor in this fight, but Alves has pretty good takedown defense. He has been taken down a bit more in some of his recent fights and if he gives me the opportunity, I’ll take him down, too.”
While Kampmann and Alves have displayed mutual respect throughout the pre-fight buildup, it hasn’t stopped either from predicting a stoppage victory. Both have aggressive striking styles and resumes that reflect their abilities to put away opponents, keeping things out of the judges’ hands.
In fact, when it comes to the topic of scoring and being on the business end of questionable decisions, Kampmann is passionate. He cited the recent interim welterweight title fight between Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz and his bout with Sanchez, in which he was apparently punished for counterstriking, as examples of why change is needed.
“I always try to fight an offensive fight where I’m pushing forward and bringing the attack,” Kampmann said. “When I fought Diego Sanchez, things worked out differently — but I don’t think you can compare that to the Condit-vs.-Diaz fight because of the amount of damage I was able to inflict on Diego. Both Condit and I were countering, but the damage I did to Diego was way more substantial than what Condit was able to do to Diaz.
“I thought it was a close fight between those two, and I wasn’t sure which one was going to win. I think Condit fought smart and outpointed Diaz. But I did far more damage when I fought Diego. Diaz was pushing the pace the entire fight but wasn’t able to do much else. He had the takedown in the final round, but sometimes things aren’t always clear and simple.
“It was a close fight, but I believe the bigger issue is the scoring system. The 10-point ‘must’ (system) doesn’t work in MMA. Judges only want to use the 10-9 score, and it definitely doesn’t work in a three-round fight. It is a system created for boxing, where there are far more rounds to judge. In a three-round fight you can have two really close rounds and one where a fighter dominates, and since the judges don’t want to use the 10-8, we see guys losing fights they should’ve never lost. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
A win over Alves in Australia would throw Kampmann directly into the batch of contenders currently populating the welterweight division’s upper tier. Where some of the old guard has been replaced by rising talent, Kampmann believes he’s earned his position and has championship gold in his sights.
“I think 170 pounds is one of the most competitive divisions there is,” Kampmann said. “(Georges) St. Pierre is a great champion and he’s done a good job defeating his challengers, but we have a lot of really tough guys making their way up. There are guys like (Johny) Hendricks, (Jake) Ellenberger and myself who are all at the top, and Condit, who is the interim champion.
“The interim belt is nice, but it doesn’t really matter that much. I already have a win over him and I believe I can compete with the best this division has to offer. The real belt is still around Georges St. Pierre’s waist, and while there is uncertainty because we don’t know when GSP is going to be back, it’s a title I’d love to fight for.”