by Tom Hamliin – MMAWeekly.com
You could hardly find a more laid back fighter than Martin Kampmann.
A day after one of his biggest career victories, against Carlos Condit, the 26-year-old could easily be describing his tax return when he talks about the fight. Or maybe it’s because he just got up from a Thursday afternoon nap.
In person, he’s good-natured and shy; he thinks he’s bad at interviews, and doesn’t chase the attention many fighters thrive on. He shows up to Xtreme Couture pro practices in a black Nissan Murano and does his work. If you didn’t hear the thud of his gloves hitting the mitts, or catch him duking it out with the other fighters, he’d be easy to miss. In place of bravado, he calmly focuses on being his best.
And on Wednesday at UFC Fight Night 18, he turned a lot of heads with a victory over the former WEC welterweight champ.
“It was a close fight, so I was happy it came out in my favor,” he tells MMAWeekly.com. “I knew it was a close fight, and nothing is ever for sure when you go to a decision.”
He has no doubt, though, that he made the right decision when he dropped from middleweight to welterweight. A lot of things in his life were up in the air – he had suffered a bad knee injury that took him out of a possibly career making fight against Rich Franklin, and was caught by Nate Marquardt one fight into his return in quick and devastating fashion.
Kampmann came to Las Vegas for the first time in the summer 2006 on the advice of training partner and friend Mike Pyle, and fell in love with the atmosphere. In January of 2007, he moved to Sin City full time to pursue fighting, UFC contract already in hand.
He misses friends from home and the Danish version of food staples like bread and milk, but he never has to worry about training partners skipping practice for a day job. Soon he’ll apply for his green card, along with his girlfriend, who’s moving from their hometown of Aarhus.
After taking out Alexandre Barros at UFC 93, Kampmann turned down an appearance at UFC 96 for the opportunity to face Condit.
He says he’s still getting the hang of 170, and has a ways to go before he’s perfected his craft.
“I was training for a victory, and I came in with a victory in my mind, but I think I would have liked to win a little more decisively than what I did,” he says of Wednesday’s experience. “I didn’t want to win a split decision. I wanted to finish the fight. I’m happy with the victory, but I think I made a lot of mistakes in the fight and I can do better.
“I’m still learning about cutting the weight, and getting it back on, but I need to perfect getting the weight back on. I learn more every time I do it.”
He did not emerge from the three-round war unscathed. In the first frame, Condit cut him badly under the left eye with a punch, but worse, poked him in the eye during the final round. The accidental blow scratched his cornea, causing double vision.
After nearly submitting – and almost getting submitted himself – Kampmann thought it best to use his strength in the clinch to take the fight down.
“I’ve been working a lot on my wrestling, and I’ve been working a lot on my takedowns,” he said. “I wanted to work my striking, too, but he got me good with the striking. My arms tired up from trying to get that guillotine on him.
“I started getting blurry vision in my right eye, so I definitely didn’t want no stand-up in (the third) round, because I wasn’t seeing very good. So I just wanted to get him to the ground.”
A Tennessee Athletic Commission doctor told him the injury would heal on its own, but he’ll see his own practitioner next week.
He has a lot more respect for Condit, who rode into the UFC with a lot of hype behind him.
“Yeah, he’s very good at what he does,” says Kampmann. “I thought I had him a couple of times where most guys would have submitted, and he was different. He hung in there.”
When it comes time to book his next fight, he hopes the victory will buy him bigger name opponents.
“Hopefully it’s going to move me up the rankings, so I think it’s going to help me move up,” he says.