It may have had some of the wind taken from its sales after three fight night bonus-winning bouts took place immediately afterwards, but the welterweight showdown between Martin Kampmann and Rick Story last night (November 19, 2011) was pretty entertaining.
Both men entered the bout as fringe top 10 fighters at 170 pounds, and while Rick Story was able to get off his usual early whirlwind of violence, it was Kampmann who remained composed.
In fact, despite having no significant wrestling credentials to his name, the Dane was the one who scored more takedowns and worked from top position in the latter two rounds.
So what was the turning point of the fight for Kampmann? And who's next for both fighters?
In typical Rick Story fashion, he waded in throwing big bombs and quickly put Kampmann in a defensive position.
Not simply content to back his opponent off, Story kept up the pressure and tattooed Kampmann with a huge winging left hook.
Once he had Kampmann stuck with his back against the fence, he followed up with a nice short left hand and then a brutal elbow that busted up "The Hitman" badly.
You might also notice in this exchange that with the way Story lunges in crazily aggressive, both men accidentally collided heads at least twice. I believe this was why the top of Kampmann's head was bleeding for the remainder of the fight.
After this combination, Kampmann did a significantly better job defending his head, although Story was still able to land big hooks to the body. Once Kampmann began to figure out the best attacks of Story, he began to pick him apart with his technical superiority in both kickboxing and on the ground.
As Kampmann grew more confident with his strikes, this also opened up avenues of attack on the ground, as Story appeared more concerned with defending himself from his punches and kicks.
Take a look at this beautiful takedown by Kampmann. A
After throwing a short knee to the body, "The Hitman" uses his left underhook and right overhook to create leverage as he plants his right foot and tosses Story over his left knee. Story is not very good off his back and Kampmann was able to punish him from this position once he had him on the canvas.
Utilizing better footwork in the stand-up portions of the latter two rounds, Kampmann kept himself from getting pushed into the fence and battered with the flurries of strikes that Story is capable of throwing. The Xtreme Couture fighter wasn't able to score a finish, but he was content with a unanimous decision victory (it was originally announced as a split decision for Kampmann but Dana White stated they made a mistake reading a scorecard).
For Rick Story, he's got the tenacity, the power and the skill to be a top fighter, but he's going to have to continue to evolve his game. If he's weak off his back, his takedown defense absolutely must improve. Martin Kampmann isn't exactly known for his wrestling but he put Story down rather easily. Also, he needs to keep going to the body. Body punches are very underutilized in MMA and that was his most successful attack that he could fall back on. If he can refine his technique to where he's not just throwing haymakers, he could still be a force someday.
Story will likely take a step down in competition now that he'd lost two straight decisions. A bout with veteran grappler Mike Pyle would make sense. As would something along the lines of Carlos Eduardo Rocha or Amir Sadollah.
For Martin Kampmann, he's finally got the monkey off his back after suffering two very close and controversial decision losses. Other than the first couple minutes of the fight where he allowed Story to dictate the pace, he was firmly in control. His striking was crisp and efficient and his defense sharpened up as the bout wore on. If he can continue along those lines, perhaps he could work his way back to being a title contender again.
Intriguing matchups for "The Hitman" would include a rematch against Diego Sanchez, a fight he should have won the first time around. Other top opponents to consider would be former title challenger Thiago Alves or the upcoming winner of the Rory MacDonald vs. Brian Ebersole fight. Either way, Martin Kampmann is back in the thick of the welterweight division.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed with Kampmann's resilience and ability to bounce back from a rough start against "The Horror?" Does the Dane belong back in the top 10 of the UFC's welterweight division?
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All gifs by Zombie Prophet via IronForgesIron.com.