When does excitement give way to mediocrity?
This is the conundrum currently facing welterweight striker Martin Kampmann, who has lost his past two bouts and is riddled with the reputation of a fighter that folds when he's under pressure.
Is that fair? It may not be, but his record in highly significant fights speaks for itself. His Octagon career has followed a rather clear pattern: win two, get a step up in competition and lose in some sort of spectacular manner.
"The Hitman" was building toward a run at the middleweight elite before running into Nate Marquardt, who blitzed him and sent him packing to the welterweight division. After stringing together a couple wins there, he was put into a number one contender fight, albeit that changed with a late opponent switch, but he was again blitzed and obliterated in the very first round, this time by Paul Daley.
After rebounding with a couple wins over Jacob Volkmann and Paulo Thiago, Kampmann was placed in a fight against the debuting Jake Shields, with a title shot once again on the line. And just as before, he turned in a less than stellar performance, resulting in a split decision loss.
His most recent defeat came at the hands of Diego Sanchez, and while the fight was close, the Xtreme Couture product coming up short doesn't look good to the decision makers, especially with the current landscape in MMA.
And that raises the question -- should Kampmann get a pass for losing these big fights, including his last two in a row, because he tends to put on a show? He told Duane Finley the answer:
"When you take two losses in a row it definitely pushes you down the ladder. I still feel that I can compete with the very best in the division so I want to fight the best the UFC has to offer but really it's up to them. When you have two losses in a row it doesn't look good on your record. I feel both fights were solid showings and I wasn't dominated in either of those bouts. In the Jake Shields fight I made a lot of mistakes and I was disappointed in my performance and while I made mistakes against Diego, I feel I had a much better showing and should have won the fight. It's up to the UFC and two losses don't look good but everybody who has seen my last two fights should know that I can compete with the best and I can put anybody in trouble. It doesn't matter who you put me in there with it's going to be an entertaining fight and whoever is in there with me is going to be in trouble. Nobody can come in there an expect an easy fight from me and if they do they are making a big mistake."
Do you agree with the notion that a fighter should be afforded more leeway if his fights are aesthetically pleasing? After all, Chris Camozzi and Dave Branch were both recently released after just one loss, ironically enough, which came after two straight wins.
And because it's not likely that Kampmann will be given his pink slip, what sounds like a good return fight? Maybe an immediate rematch against Sanchez, one he badly wants? Or is there another welterweight that better fits the bill?
Have at it, Maniacs.