After two tough losses in a row that could have gone either way, UFC welterweight Martin Kampmann is changing his attitude.
No more pure counter-punching, no more patience. It's time to be the aggressor and take the fight to his opposition and go for the finish. You can't get screwed if you knock them out or make them tap.
Still ranked as one of the top welterweights in the world, the Xtreme Couture fighter has a huge test in front of him at UFC 139 this Saturday night (November 19, 2011) in Rick Story, a fighter who was in contention for a title shot earlier this summer before getting derailed by Charlie Brenneman.
Kampmann spoke with MMAmania.com about changing his fighting mindset, adapting to how bouts are scored and what he expects against Rick Story in this exclusive interview.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're last two fights against Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez have been close decisions that didn't go your way. Has that changed how you prepare for a bout or what your mindset is like coming into a fight?
Martin Kampmann: Well, it makes me want to be more aggressive. I've been a little too patient, letting the fight come to me lately. I want to go in there and finish the fights. I want to finish the fight so I don't have to be in that situation again.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Did you change up anything to make those finishes more of a possibility or is that just a testament to how tough the guys you are fighting right now are at the top of the division?
Martin Kampmann: Yeah, when you fight the best guys in the division, sometimes three rounds isn't enough time to finish them unless you land something clean on the button. Anything can happen but sometimes, three rounds is not enough. I have to go into this fight and go for the kill. That's the difference for me. I'm gonna go for the kill all three rounds.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Going back towards the last two fights. Do you feel like there's a bias towards wrestling because Diego Sanchez went 1-15 with his takedown attempts but it appears they were also giving him credit for aggression on his 14 failed takedown attempts. Do you think that's a problem?
Martin Kampmann: I definitely think overall, the UFC judging, the scoring criteria favors wrestlers a lot. You can beat a guy, punch him 5-10 times in the face, cut him up, bloody him up and he takes you down and holds you down for a minute doing nothing but just hugging you for dear life and they'll give him the round. I know who got the better end of that deal if you ask me. I think the rules definitely favors wrestlers a lot but you can't whine about it because that's not gonna help. I've just got to improve your wrestling and get my takedown defense better and hopefully make it into my advantage. I think moreso the scoring system needs changed up a bit. I've seen a lot of times where the scoring is off for whatever reason.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You were preparing for a fight before this against John Howard and you'd had three surgeries on your knee beforehand, so how scary was it for you when your knee was bothering you again in the preparation for that fight?
Martin Kampmann: It sucks. Like you said, I've had three surgeries on my knee so anytime I hurt my knee I get a little paranoid. Even if it's just nothing too serious, I still get paranoid but when it's really series I get extra paranoid. I was worried there for a second but I took some time off and luckily it got better. The doctor I have told me I didn't need any more surgery so I was very happy about that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can that almost be a mental thing that you have to get over because I know a lot of guys, when they suffer a really bad injury, they freak out a bit if that area is in danger again in training?
Martin Kampmann: Yeah, it's definitely psychological as well, for sure. You've got to break through it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Transitioning to your fight here. Are you thankful that UFC gave you such a strong opponent in Rick Story? Most fighters, if they lose two in a row, even if they were really close decisions, they get dropped way down. In your case, a win over Rick Story and you're right back in the thick of things.
Martin Kampmann: Yeah, I mean I think Rick Story is definitely a high caliber opponent. I think he's one of the best guys in the welterweight division and even though he had a little setback himself, he was riding high, getting a lot of hype after beating Thiago Alves. He had a good streak going before that. I think definitely a win over him will put me back up in contention after that bullshit loss against Diego.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You've mentioned that staying standing is a priority but could it also be really important to try to get a sweep or something and potentially take advantage of some of the liabilities that he showed off his back against Charlie Brenneman?
Martin Kampmann: Oh yeah. I've got a lot of submission wins in the UFC. I've actually had more in the UFC than I've had TKOs. I think if I can get the opportunity to get a submission, I'll go for it. I'm a well-rounded fighter and whatever opportunity I get to finish the fight, I'll go for it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you have the confidence like with your guillotine choke, would you be willing to surrender a position to go for that because I know that was something that was a deciding factor in the Jake Shields fight.
Martin Kampmann: Yeah, the Jake Shields fight, I went for that guillotine choke a couple times and in that fight, I honestly should have just played boring, just fought for the decision instead and then not go for the choke. Sometimes, you've got to play boring but I mean, I don't want fights to go to a decision either. I know I have a really good guillotine choke and I thought I was gonna be able to get on top of him and try to finish the fight and that way I could stay on top in case he slipped out but that's not the way it played out. I ignored the saying "Position before submission" and judges don't give much for submission attempts. They only count if you get the actual submission so what I learned from that fight is it might be better to try to finish with punches sometimes. Instead of giving up my position to go for a choke, next time I'll just punch them in the face.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): In Rick Story's fight against Thiago Alves, he put a lot of pressure on Alves against the fence. Was that a footwork mistake for Alves? How would you stop Rick Story from trying to do the same thing to you?
Martin Kampmann: I definitely don't want to be put against the fence like Alves was. Rick Story's a really strong guy. He's got great wrestling and he can really put the pressure on you so definitely footwork is a big factor. Moving my feet around and also maybe putting the pressure on him. He does good when he's the one coming forward putting the pressure on his opponent but I'd like to put the pressure on him, make him go backwards.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know that you were rooting for B.J. Penn to win against Nick Diaz, but with Diaz's victory, what do you think about him in the UFC now and what he brings to the welterweight division?
Martin Kampmann: I think it's great. I'd love to fight him. I think he gets a lot of hype but he's very beatable. He's tough, he's a tough kid for sure but I think he can be beat. He obviously has a weakness against wrestlers. All of his losses in the UFC were against guys that were capable of taking him down so again, takedowns score so high in the judging criteria, those are fights he's lost. I'd be willing to strike with him too. I'd love to fight him but he's got bigger fights right now. Maybe in the future though.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): When you're visualizing success in your head, how do you see yourself getting a victory on Saturday night?
Martin Kampmann: Just Bully Beatdown style. i see myself beating him down. When I think about the fight, I try to visualize a three round war because if you visualize a first round stoppage and then you go in for the first round and you can't finish him, in your head it might fuck with you because you had that visualization that it was gonna finish in the first round. I always visualize three hard rounds and then if you get the finish early, that's just a bonus.
Martin would like to thank Xtreme Couture, The Gun Store and to all the fans for their support. You can follow him on twitter @MartinKampmann and you can like his Facebook page and his new website MartinKampmann.com.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Kampmann be able to endure Story's pressure and get back in the mix? Is he making the necessary changes to adapt to the current state of mixed martial arts?