Defeating Thiago "Pitbull" Alves without a precise and tenacious grappling-oriented game plan is like taking on Superman, but leaving the kryptonite at home. Even with your best foot forward, you better have the wrestling chops and steel will to to push through his formidable takedown defense.
Contender Martin "Hitman" Kampmann has the rounded skill set to give any welterweight a run for their money, but his propensity to stray from game plans could lead him again to trouble when he faces Alves on Friday in the headlining bout for UFC on FX 2.
Both perennial contenders are highly respected for their striking games, but where Kampmann is known for his accuracy and technique, Alves is better known for his power and finishing abilities. Even though Alves might pose more danger on the feet, Kampmann's pride has trouble in neglecting a firefight.
The test for Kampmann may be in imposing a grappling attack, where he poses the more dangerous submission threat if the fight hits the ground. The trouble is controlling position and getting the fight to the ground against the larger Alves.
Kampmann has submitted fighters bigger than himself. When competing in the UFC middleweight division, and not cutting much if any weight, Kampmann submitted three fighters in the first round. Regardless of the size of his opponent, if there is an opening, Kampmann is excellent at exploiting it.
However, Alves has gotten much better at minding the technical nuances in the ground fighting. Against Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes and against Fitch in their second fight, Alves spent periods on the ground where he looked comfortable and free of danger.
Complimenting the rounding of his ground game is his submission of Papi Abedi in his latest contest, the first submission of Alves' UFC career.
This leaves Kampmann in a tricky spot. Stand and trade with a kickboxer who may possibly be better than you, or press the issue for grappling when it could very well tire you out, neutralize offense on both ends and lead to yet more curiously speculative judging.
Whatever Kampmann's approach is, the key is to maintain pace and volume of offense, no matter where the fight goes. Kampmann can find success in any area of fighting, but to stop Alves, he better remember not to leave his kryptonite at home.