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Martin 'The Hitman' Kampmann: Looking to prove his doubters wrong at UFC 121 in Anaheim

Martin

Martin Kampmann (17-3) battles Jake Shields (25-4) at UFC 121: "Lesnar vs Velasquez" this Saturday night (Oct. 23) from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. 

The fight could determine who gets the next crack at the UFC welterweight title.

It wouldn't be the first time Kampmann was put in a position to possibly become a number one contender. "The Hitman" was set to take on Mike Swick in a bout that was going to determine who was next in line for GSP, a Swick injury and Paul Daley derailed those plans. Kampmann admitted to Pro MMA Radio that he didn't come into the fight with the best strategy.

"I don't want to make any excuses, I didn't fight a smart fight. I could've fought that fight a lot better and under those circumstances that was my own fault. I think I should've beat Daley and I think I would beat him if we were gonna fight again."

Knowing that his fight with Daley was no longer going to be a number one contender bout, many might suspect that Kampmann didn't feel the need to put on his best performance, but "The Hitman" feels the exact opposite.

"Title shot or no title shot, I don't want to lose. I'm gonna fight to win my fight, no matter what's on the line." 

Before being stopped in his tracks by "Semtex," Kampmann was 6-1 in the UFC. Kampmann rebounded with a quick submission win over Jacob Volkmann.

Despite suffering a TKO loss that halted his title hopes, it didn't take "The Hitman" long to remain relevant in the 170Ib division. After submitting Volkmann, he neutralized up and coming welterweight Paulo Thiago en route to a unanimous decision victory.

"I'm hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. I was preparing for a hard fight, but I felt confident going into the fight that I could compete well with him where ever the fight was gonna go and I think I proved that. I beat him decisively. I would've really liked to finish the fight, but I'm happy about my performance.

Kampmann knows that his technical style may not attract fans all the time, but he also knows what it takes to win.

"I still think I make exciting fights. I think my last fight was good, but sometimes it's best to take your time and pick your opponent apart and fight him smart instead of just going in there and putting it all on the line. When you put it all on the line, sometimes you make mistakes and you'll get clipped too and leave yourself vulnerable."

In some ways, the loss to Daley can be looked as a blessing in disguise for Kampmann. "The Hitman" gives credit to the loss for finding the perfect balance between tactics and aggression.

"That's one thing I could take away from that fight. I try to always look at my fights, I'm my worst critic. I look at the Thiago fight and I still made mistakes and could've done things better in that fight. I look at all my fights and see what I can take away and learn from them, win or lose."

Expecting Dan Hardy, Kampmann got a phone call from Joe Silva offering him a fight with Shields, a former Elite XC and Strikeforce world champion. "The Hitman" had no qualms with the matchup.

"I was trying to get a fight with Hardy lined up next week, but that was my first opponent to ask for after I beat Thiago because he was asking to fight the winner of us and I thought that would be a great matchup. I think he or the UFC chose to have Condit fight him instead, then they called me up and said they had Shields. I think that was a great matchup, I'm looking to get the toughest guys out there and at the time Alves and Fitch were matched up. I think now Shields is the bigger name and a bigger threat than Hardy, but he's a bigger reward. Big risk, big reward."

Kampmann recognizes the threat that Shields brings, but he also acknowledges that he himself is a big threat in this contest.

"I think he's really good, but of course in my mind I'm the favorite to win this fight. I'll pick myself as the winner any day, but anything can happen in a fight. If I make a mistake he's got great submissions. Too be honest with you, he's a boring fighter. Sometimes if he can't get the submission, he seems to be stalling out a bit. I have a lot of fans telling me to kick his ass because they don't like his fighting style."

Learning from the bout with "Semtex" Kampmann is trying to avoid bad game plans at all costs. He realizes that Shields' strength is his wrestling, not his standup.

"His striking is kind of stiff and robotic, but he really doesn't try to stand up with you he tries to take you to the ground and focus his top game. I've been training takedown defense with Xtreme Couture. I've been working with lots of great wrestlers. I've worked with Tyson Griffin's brother, wrestlers like Gray Maynard and Jay Hieron."

While the betting lines don't favor Kampmann to defeat Shields on Saturday, he likes the odds.

"I'm cool with being the underdog. For some reason people underestimate me, but I'm happy to prove them wrong."

Will "The Hitman" be able to play spoiler at UFC 121? We'll see.

For more on Kampmann, check out the replay of MMAmania.com's exclusive presentation of Pro MMA Radio by clicking here.

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