Restless are the masses with short memory spans and a hunger for all things elite in MMA. It was not long ago that Chuck Liddell and Rich Franklin were laying foes to waste with an element of simplicity rarely found in this sport. Today, for many, they are old news.
There was a time when a fight between "The Iceman" and "Ace" would have been categorized as a super fight. Today, all the match is met with is discontent by the casual and hardcore fan alike. With all the talent roaming the UFC stable, many can not fathom how this came to pass as a main event.
What they fail to see is the fact that this is the cap to the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. For what it is worth, fans should appreciate Dana White and Joe Silva not scrapping a second consecutive showdown between TUF coaches. The brass did what they could with the cards they were dealt.
Even with the rumblings regarding how "main event worthy" this fight may or may not be, there is more than one fight taking place. A couple matches look to be quite entertaining. Chuck and Rich will do their part, but there is more to UFC 115 than two vets getting it done.
One fight really gleams as a diamond in the rough.
That fight will take place between two contenders in the welterweight division. Josh Koscheck may have earned his spot on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter across from Georges St. Pierre but Paulo Thiago and Martin "The Hitman" Kampmann are not far behind.
One of them should be very close to challenging who ever walks away from the next WW championship match a winner.
What the UFC has seen lately has been the transformation of the welterweight division into something not unlike Anderson Silva's middleweight division. Georges St. Pierre has put his stamp all over that WW strap and shows no signs of weakness like many an analyst once felt he had.
GSP has not only redefined his career as one of the greatest mixed martial artists ever, he has redefined what it means to be a mixed martial artist. He has raised the bar to almost unattainable heights. But that wont stop the challengers from answering the call.
It was not long ago that Martin Kampmann was one win away from testing his own meddle against the pound for pound king GSP. He had been offered a tilt with another WW prospect Mike Swick. The winner would get their shot at the Canadian champ.
An injury suffered by Swick prevented their match from taking place. However, it seemed a win over the replacement Paul "Symtex" Daley would still catapult Kampmann where he wanted to be; the number one contender.
As this sport commonly does, it threw Kampmann this curve ball and he could swing for the fences or strike out. Kampmann found himself TKO'd by Daley's devastating striking prowess half way through the first round.
This of course slammed the brakes on any title aspirations "The Hitman" had entertained. What it did not do was diminish in any way the twelve stoppages he had managed in his first eighteen fights. Kampmann was and is the real deal. One loss would not change that.
Today his record stands at 16-3 with thirteen early stoppages in his favor.
His mix of Muay Thai and submission ability creates a dangerous combination of striking and grappling for anyone who steps in the cage with him. Training out of the Xtreme Couture facilities ensures he will always come into a fight at the top of his game, having trained with some of the best MMA has to offer.
Speaking of the best MMA has to offer, there is a quiet yet lethal fighter who has been putting down a solid reputation as a competitor and a finisher. Kampmann's next opponent is the very dangerous Brazilian fighter Paulo Thiago.
Thiago is not thought of by the casual fan as a contender to the throne but for the hardcore fan that watches fights that may not have the sexiest names attached, they know Thiago is "a scary dude" to quote Joe Rogan.
Thiago has made a name for himself in the Octagon by trashing the big names that many thought would rule the division for years. For starters he put the most impressive two piece and a biscuit on Josh Koscheck that fight fans may ever see. With a beautifully executed standing combination Thiago put " Kos " away early in his UFC debut.
He went from there to lose to John Fitch, but at the end of the day a loss to John Fitch on your resume is not something worth hanging ones head over. And for the record it may be a W for history to remember but it wasn't as though Fitch dominated Thiago, he beat him with a sound decision but not much more.
Thiago would bounce back and win his next two fights. One of which was a devastating submission win over Mike Swick. Looking back at his career a fan will find Thiago's 13-1 record quite impressive as, like Kampmann, he has finished most of his opponents with the count now at ten of fourteen. He doesn't ride fights out, he looks to end them and win decisively which makes him very dangerous.
It is that element of danger and talent that makes an analyst wonder how far his star can take him. Again, hes not the sexiest name a fight fan will ever come across, but he is building a reputation in the UFC as a finisher and a game opponent for anyone who makes weight at 170 pounds. His black belts in Judo and BJJ make him a dangerous grappler and his hands have proven devastating when thrown with authority.
Another thing he holds in common with Kampmann is his elite training affiliations. Making his home with the absolute world class collection of fighters at Casa Preta or Black House, Thiago can rest assured he is training around and affiliated with the absolute cream of not only the Brazilian crop but the entire world of MMA.
So these two elite warriors will look to prove to themselves and the world that they are deserving of the recognition of number one contender to the winner of Koscheck and St. Pierre . This fight has heavy implications as to what will happen after " Kos " and "Rush" sort it out. It would be hard to name two contenders more deserving of that credibility looking at the WW landscape as it is today.
Both men can bang. Both men can grapple. Both men have impressive wins across their careers. While it may not be the most compelling duo Joe Silva has put together in the cage, this fight carries with it the most weight at UFC 115 with what may happen and how it will effect their division when the smoke clears.
Considering the fact that Thiago and Kampmann must understand how close they actually are to the greatness they know they are capable of, it is hard to imagine them both not coming into this one in top form. They are backed by elite training camps. They have a wealth of talent. With the promise of a title shot merely one or two wins away, they are bound to bring out the big guns for this match.
Thinking about the best these two can offer fight fans looking on, it is compelling to think just how the best Kampmann and the best Thiago may do in competition with one another. It is with that in mind that this author is choosing them for fight of the night candidate. They very well could steal the show Saturday night as they, more than any other duo on the card, have the most at stake.
That spells a war for those of you who find this card less than worthy of your hard earned money. Give it a chance and learn to enjoy the game. It is not all about the name, it is more about the fight, do not forget that.
This article originally published at hurtsbad.com
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