Martin Kampmann is a smart, well-rounded and motivated fighter, but will that be enough to help him beat Jake Shields at UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Velasquez tonight?
With 30 MMA fights under his belt, Shields is high and riding a 14-fight winning streak, finishing off eight of his last 10 opponents.
He then astounded fans with his thorough beating of MMA legend Dan “Hendo” Henderson in April 2010. Remember the whole Mayhem Miller/Gilbert Melendez/Diaz Brothers Beatdown in Nashville, Tenn.? Yeah...that fight.
A week later Shields was seen cage side at WEC 48, arm and arm with Dana White, who claimed "He's mine!" and indeed he was—after he was released by Strikeforce on June 30 of this year, Shields signed a deal to compete in UFC’s Welterweight division.
This Saturday marks his UFC debut against Martin Kampmann, and in typical UFC President Dana White style, Shields has already been promised that with a win, he will be top contender for the UFC Welterweight Championship fight between the winner of Georges St. Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck.
So what does all this mean for Martin Kampmann? Pretty much that not only is he the underdog by everyone’s standards (even his boss), but he’s going to have to fight especially hard to get the win, recognition and respect of MMA fans, because not many people think he is capable of beating Shields.
In this fight, most people have tagged Shields as “the ground fighter,” especially after seeing him totally dominate Henderson on the ground, showing off his grappling skills and “white on rice” control during the last rounds of the fight; and Kampmann has been characterized as “the standup fighter.”
Shields has a record of 30 fights and 25 wins (83 percent of his fights)—three by KO and 10 by submission. In fact, since 2004, he hasn’t lost a bout.
Interestingly, Kampmann’s record, at 20 fights and 17 wins (85 percent of his fights), is just as impressive as Shields, yet most fans are giving Shields the win.
MMA experts have tagged Kampmann as a standup fighter, but in reality, he’s won seven of his fights by KO and six by submission, almost half-and-half, meaning Kampmann is no stranger to the ground.
Given his stand-up skills, combined with his abilities on the ground, actually makes him a force to be reckoned with, in my opinion.
It's highly unlikely that Dana White would just toss Shields into the ring with any old fighter he could easily beat, just to give him a shot at the Welterweight Championship title, right?
Actions speak louder than words. So White must think Kampmann’s a force to be reckoned with...after all, he’s defeated such worthy opponents of late as Paulo Thiago (via Unanimous Decision), Jacob Volkmann (via Guillotine Choke) and Carlos Condit (via Split decision).
So just what does Kampmann need to do to win this fight? He’s got great cardio, above-average standup, and in spite of what people think, great submission skills…so if he manages to avoid the takedown, and get in close enough to Shields, there’s a good chance he’ll win via TKO or KO. Against Shields, I highly doubt he'll win by submission, in spite of his skills.
Kampmann trains in Muay Thai, meaning he might be tempted to throw kicks and knees; this could prove his downfall, as no doubt Shields will be looking for a chance to grab a leg and take him down.
The key to a win for Kampmann will be his ability to stuff Shields’ takedown attempts, get in close, throw some quick combos and get out of the pocket fast, or Shields will take him down...he'll be looking for it.
And if Kampmann does go down, he'll need to scramble back up as quickly as possible – so hopefully he’s been practicing his skills against the cage.
I like both fighters, and I think they both have a good chance to win. Certainly Shields has a lot riding on this fight and is under a lot of pressure to win: it’s his UFC debut, he wants to keep his winning streak going and he wants a shot at that title fight with the win.
Think about this though: there’s no real pressure for Kampmann to win like there is for Shields. He’s not “expected” to win. White hasn’t promised him a shot at the title if he does like he has for Shields, so right now he’s busy training and just thinking about getting in the ring to fight. No undue pressure there.
And no doubt he’s been practicing his sprawls, fast combos, cage manipulation and uppercuts, so when Shields shoots in, he can catch him for the KO! For Kampmann, it’s basically a regular day at the office.
This is going to be an exciting fight, with both competitors spending some time in the beginning to gauge each other’s commitment and ability, in order to figure out strategy.
After that, speed, determination and training will take over, and if he’s practiced well, Kampmann just might get a shot at that title instead of Shields!
UFC Heavyweight Championship
Brock Lesnar (No. 1 HW) vs. Cain Velasquez (No. 4 HW)
Jake Shields (No. 3 MW, No. 8 PFP) vs. Martin Kampmann (No. 6 WW)
Paulo Thiago (No. 7 WW) vs. Diego Sanchez
Tito Ortiz vs. Matt Hamill
Brendan Schaub vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Court McGee vs. Ryan Jensen
Patrick Cote vs. Tom Lawlor
Michael Guymon vs. Daniel Roberts
Sam Stout vs. Paul Taylor
Gilbert Yvel vs. Jon Madsen
Dongi Yang vs. Chris Camozzi