Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann is set to headline UFC Fight Night 27, a special Wednesday broadcast on Fox Sports 1.
The pairing would perhaps be deemed ill-suited to front a pay-per-view show, with both fighters coming in off losses and there being no immediate title implications. It would probably rank as a co-main event at best.
But with UFC Fight Night 27 airing on free television, Condit vs. Kampmann is just A-OK.
From an excitement standpoint, this is as good as it gets. Both guys deliver excellent fights nearly every time out, both only improve when faced with monumental challenges and both are card-carrying members of the welterweight elite. And if that weren't enough, how about the revenge angle set up by Kampmann's 2009 victory over his foe?
It promises to be an outstanding headliner, one capable of bringing the glamour and pizzazz of Saturday night all the way over to smack dab middle-of-the-week Wednesday.
Here we will take a look at the Condit vs. Kampmann matchup and examine how it is likely to play out. We will assess which fighter has an edge in each of the striking, wrestling and grappling and submission areas of the game and use those assessments to project the probable outcome.
Condit has always been a decent striker, but he's really evolved over the past few years. The clinic he put on against Nick Diaz, the head-kick he nearly finished Georges St-Pierre with and the way he was outpointing Johny Hendricks on the feet all speak to this.
The Natural Born Killer also wears a solid chin, something evidenced by the zero in his knockout loss column. His durability is all the more impressive when you consider the level of competition he has faced and the aggressive style he prefers.
The Dane is a terrific kickboxer and wields dangerous knockout power. He is a versatile striker with the ability to go on the offensive when he smells blood or hang back and counter punch against overly aggressive foes.
Though he is statistically better than Condit when it comes to striking defense, Kampmann has been knocked out four times in his career, most recently against Johny Hendricks. He also took a lot of damage in his bouts with Jake Ellenberger and Thiago Alves before salvaging the nights with improbable comeback finishes.
Condit's aggression doesn't bode well for Kampmann, who is a notoriously slow starter. If the Dane wastes Round 1 settling in, he'll either find himself in a deep hole or waking up to a celebratory Condit.
Both fighters are likely to have their moments on the feet, but Condit's ability to absorb damage and keep on coming gives him a slight edge in my book.
Though Condit is deadly on the feet he sometimes prefers to take the action to the mat where he can employ his advanced grappling skills. He's posted decent numbers inside the Octagon when it comes to takedown rate, succeeding 58 percent of the time.
Defensively, however, he has been utterly terrible, stuffing barely over a third of incoming shots. Kampmann isn't known for his explosive wrestling skills, but Condit will have to watch himself in this one or he could wind up on his back, frustrated like he was against Hendricks at UFC 158.
In fact, Kampmann's ability to take Condit down was a major reason he won the first time these two squared off.
Though not an elite wrestler by any means, Kampmann is adequately proficient in dragging the action downwards. His five takedowns were a big difference-maker when he defeated Condit back in 2009, and he may look to utilize that edge once again.
Kampmann has of late become quite sharp stifling incoming shots. He's quietly turned this attribute into a real strength, and if Condit forces him to prove that, I think they'll do so without trouble.
Kampmann holds the edge in takedown offense, but the real gap is in the defense. Condit is comfortable fighting off his back and often throws takedown defense to the wind.
Kampmann may not be GSP or Hendricks, but he has what it takes to put Condit down, and put him down more than once.
I'm not sure the same thing can be said when we flip the positions, even if Condit managed three takedowns of Kampmann in 2009.
Condit matches his 13 career knockouts with as many submissions, meaning he is an incredibly proficient finishers in all realms. He has recently looked to strike his way to victories, but that should not, even for a second, infer that he can no longer finish opponents with a hold.
Furthermore, Condit employs some nice sweeps, is practiced at avoiding damage on the bottom and hasn't been submitted since 2006.
Kampmann comes from a striking background, but his submissions have carried him on a number of occasions. He is sound both offensively and defensively, wielding a real nice guillotine choke.
Though Kampmann hasn't had to deal with too many elite submission fighters in his career, he's had a few stiff tests. He's passed them all. Condit represents the latest real challenge in Kampann's unwavering line of successes.
This pick is contentious either way, but Condit is the more versatile grappler, as well as the better submission finisher.
That isn't to say a submission is likely for The Natural Born Killer. A submission is indeed improbable. But factoring in all components of ground-fighting, I toss the edge to Condit.
Though he came up short against Kampmann back in 2009, Condit's star has since eclipsed his opponent's. His capture of the interim welterweight title, his near miss against St-Pierre and his epic against Hendricks have rocketed Condit to the forefront of the division.
On the other hand, Condit is coming in off back-to-back losses and needs a win at UFC Fight Night 27 desperately. Unfortunately, it won't be easy.
Condit shares a lot of strengths with Kampmann, so it will be interesting to see how he approaches the action. He'll likely look to keep things upright for the most part but won't hesitate to surprise his foe with a takedown if he gets complacent.
He just needs to stay off his back as much as possible.
Kampmann had been on the precipice of a title shot, but the dream came to a screeching halt when Hendricks took all of 46 seconds to knock him out at UFC 154. The result was both depressing and indicative of how Kampmann operates.
Though a threat in all elements of the game, Kampmann struggles to get comfortable early on in fights. Aside from the Hendricks loss, Kampmann's previous two bouts confirm this. Both his wins against Jake Ellenberger and Thiago Alves were of the come-from-behind variety, cinched after nearly slipping away in the opening frame.
Kampmann needs to avoid furthering that trend on Wednesday night. A solution would be to seek the takedown early, forcing Condit to play defense while worrying only about submissions, not a decisive blow that ends or sets the tone of the fight.
Prediction: Condit def. Kampmann, unanimous decision
Both of these guys are outstanding fighters, classy competitors and exciting entertainers. Both employ a similar style that is more than main event worthy, and both have a legitimate shot at beating any other welterweight on any given day.
But when it comes down to it, Condit may just be a little better. A little more dangerous with his hands, his submissions—a little more consistent with is aggression and pace.
A lot of people are counting Kampmann out in this fight. I am not one of them. He has a shot to pull off the upset, and if Condit doesn't come out guns blazing, he'll do it.
But when does Condit ever not show up?