UFC 154: Martin Kampmann vs. Johny Hendricks Head-to-Toe Breakdown
UFC 154 is set to go Saturday, November 17.
The event includes one of the year's most highly anticipated fight-cards, as well as one of the most highly anticipated returns of all time—that of Georges St-Pierre.
Though most of the buzz surrounding the venue has been generated from the welterweight title showdown between St-Pierre and Carlos Condit, the event is stacked with exciting action from top to bottom, and includes an intriguing welterweight title eliminator between Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks.
Here, well take a look at the matchup between Kampmann and Hendricks and breakdown who has the advantage in each area of the fight.
The Danish kickboxer employs a varied arsenal of strikes, most of which he throws with decent power and impressive accuracy. From jabs to leg-kicks to flying knees, Kampmann has the tools to keep any opponent on his heels.
Kampmann will enter his UFC 154 bout with speed and technique advantages, but he has been clipped before and fighters clipped by Johny Hendricks usually don't survive long.
While he may not be as quick or technically sound as Kampmann, Hendricks wields MMA's great equalizer—one-punch knockout power.
In fact, he's scored a knockout half the times he has competed.
While Hendricks might take more shots than he gives at UFC 154, he has a very real chance of stopping "The Hitman," especially early on in the match, as Hendricks is regarded as a fast-starter and Kampmann a somewhat slow one.
While both guys pose a threat to the other in the striking realm, it's Kampmann that ultimately has the advantage.
Though he lacks the power Hendricks sports, Kampmann is the more polished and unpredictable striker. As the fight wears on, look for Kampmann to begin picking his more one-dimensional opponent apart, scoring points from Round 2 onward.
He'll have to fight cautiously though, if he wants to make this advantage count.
Kampmann's takedown offense is solid, but it's his takedown defense that's really one of the most underrated components of his game.
According to Fightmetric "The Hitman" has stuffed 78 percent of the takedowns launched against him, which is actually a better mark than his opponent.
He's also succeed 42 percent of the time he's shot for a takedown, which is nearly identical to Hendricks's mark of 44 percent.
Hendricks has established himself as one of the top wrestlers in a welterweight division full of former NCAA competitors, and frequently uses his double-leg and clinch work to set up his nasty ground-and-pound.
Making Kampmann fight off of his back might be something Hendricks looks to do at UFC 154, and even though taking Kampmann down is no walk in the park, few can stand up to Hendricks' persistence.
While the takedown numbers don't lean towards Hendricks as much as we might expect them to, and each competitor has faced similarly stout wrestlers of late, the nod still goes to Hendricks.
Don't expect it to be easy for the two-time NCAA national champion to put Kampmann on his back, but do expect him to have more than 50 percent of the say as to whether the fight stays standing or goes to the mat.
Beyond takedowns, Hendricks is also more likely to succeed in controlling Kampmann on the mat than the other way around.
Though he's primarily regarded as a striker, Kampmann has won seven fights via submission, just one less than his mark of eight (T)KOs.
Kampmann most recently showed off his slick submission ability against Thiago Alves earlier this year, stopping "The Pitbull" with a guillotine choke in the waning moments of a fight he had all but conceded.
All of Kampmann's submission wins have come via some sort of choke, so you can expect for him to be looking for Hendricks' neck every time the latter closes the distance and makes a play for a takedown.
Submissions don't really mean all that much to Hendricks—he prefers to slug away at grounded opponents rather than look to stop them with a hold.
That shouldn't imply he doesn't know how to handle his opponents' attacks though, an attribute the unblemished "Zero" found in his submission loss column illustrates.
I'd be surprised if this match ended via submission, but if it does, the victory will almost certainly go to Kampmann.
Kampmann's penchant for choke techniques heightens the danger Hendricks—a wrestler—will face, but Hendrick's submission defense will probably pass the test.
The submission-scenario that's most realistic for this fight is that Kampmann hurts Hendricks on the feet and sinks in a rear-naked choke after flooring him, or a guillotine when Hendricks' default mode (wrestling) kicks in while he isn't seeing straight.
Martin Kampann: Surviving the Initial Onslaught
Kampmann has survived early scares in both of his past two bouts, first against Thiago Alves then Jake Ellenberger.
In Johny Hendricks he'll face another fast starter, one who could end Kampmann's night before it even really begins.
Making it through the opening minutes of the bout without sustaining any significant damage will be a key in this fight for Kampmann. If he's able to relax and find his range, he'll be able to score all night long on the feet.
Johny Hendricks: Control
If Hendricks is unable to take Kampmann out during the fight's opening moments, victory could be decided by which fighter is able to control the action.
Though Hendricks is a decent striker and Kampmann a solid wrestler, each fighter holds an advantage over the other in those respective categories (see previous slides). Thus, what very well might decide the outcome of the match is whether Hendricks is able to either takedown, or pin Kampmann against the fence, with consistency.
He's too powerful a wrestler not to land a takedown here or there, but what he does will be weighed against the damage Kampmann can do with his slick striking techniques.
That means every second he has dominant position will count.
The Bottom Line
Kampmann's takedown defense will be put to the test in this one, and how well it holds up will dictate his chances of winning.
If he is able to keep the match standing the majority of the time, he has a real shot to either outpoint or stop Hendricks with strikes.
But even if he is able to keep it on the feet a win is not a given. Hendricks's big left hand is always just one connection away from a nice dream.
If Hendricks thinks he'll be able to take Kampmann down at will, he's in for a rude awakening. Same goes if he expects to sling his overhand left to an easy victory.
While Hendricks does possess the superior wrestling and power this match has the makings of a real grind.
He'll need to control Kampmann whenever possible and fight with his hands high whenever there is a little distance between the two.
Projected Winner: Kampmann
Though it won't take much to tip the balance of this match, I expect Kampmann to survive Hendricks's early attacks and pick him apart for the remainder of the contest.
Though takedowns could swing victory the other way, Kampmann should be able to remain upright long enough to do what he needs to do to either stop Hendricks or convince the judges he's deserving of the win.