It’s one of the classic roles a team or player can have in the world of sports. While he may be an underdog heading into Saturday night’s co-main event against Jake Shields, Martin Kampmann doesn’t feel like he’s anything if not on the same level as his opponent, but he’d love Shields’ UFC debut and take away his shot at the welterweight title.
After his last fight, a win over Paulo Thiago in June, Kampmann talked about wanting to face Dan Hardy for his next bout. The UFC saw fit to have the Xtreme Couture fighter sit and wait until former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields became a free agent, and then signed with the promotion to have that be his next fight.
The way Kampmann sees it this is a much bigger opportunity.
“I think it’s a much bigger fight,” Kampmann told MMAWeekly Radio. ”Jake Shields has a lot bigger name than Dan Hardy, he’s also a much more dangerous opponent. Bigger risk, but bigger reward, you know?”
If Shields is the more dangerous opponent, that’s fine with Kampmann, but he also wants the Cesar Gracie black belt to know something else as he heads into his first fight in the Octagon. The UFC is Martin Kampmann’s house.
“I feel the pressure’s more on him to come in cause they’re hyping him a lot, and I feel great. I’ve fought in the UFC a lot, and the UFC’s my home,” Kampmann said. ”I’m not letting him come in here and think he’s the (expletive).
“I’m going to whoop his ass and send him back to Strikeforce.”
While most fighters tend to avoid talking too much about strategy heading into any fight, Kampmann believes he has Shields scouted out perfectly for this fight, and he doesn’t believe his opponent is going to try to re-invent the wheel with this match-up.
“It’s pretty obvious what he tries to do in fights,” stated Kampmann. “He tries to take people down and get that top position, and he likes to work from mount as well, and back mount, and he tries to go for submissions. He don’t really do much stand-up; that’s what I see every time he fights.
“I’m prepared for everything, but that’s how he fights all his fights.”
Kampmann admits that he’s focused too much on one area of an opponent’s game in the past. He feels he’s learned that lesson and won’t make the same mistake against Shields.
“You can over think sometimes. If you worry too much about the takedown, sometimes you start getting punched in the face because you’re only thinking about that shot,” said Kampmann. ”When I fought Jacob Volkmann, he punched me with some stupid punches because I was so focused on not getting taken down. You’ve just got to relax and see what happens in the fight.”
Before the two welterweights even step into the cage at UFC 121 on Saturday night, all the talk leading into the bout has mostly been about Shields making his Octagon debut and a title shot looming on the horizon. The UFC is a whole different animal than fighting for any other promotion, but Kampmann doesn’t buy into the theory that it makes or breaks a fighter just stepping foot in the legendary Octagon.
“I don’t believe in that whole UFC jitters bull (expletive),” Kampmann said candidly. ”I think it’s all excuses. If you fought on a big stage before then it doesn’t matter. Especially Jake Shields, he’s fought on CBS, and huge cards. I don’t think it’s going to make any difference. For me it didn’t make any difference the first time I was in the UFC.”
What Kampmann hopes comes from this fight is a win over Jake Shields, and if he plays his cards right, a UFC welterweight title shot. While UFC president Dana White has said a win for Kampmann would push him further in the division, he stopped short of guaranteeing a title shot.
Kampmann just wants to get the win, and then he’ll look at what’s next.
“I’ve got to beat Shields, but I’m definitely planning on whopping his ass, and then I would love to get a title shot after that.”