Martin Kampmann has been a force in the UFC welterweight division for years, defeating many of the best fighters in the weight class and turning in memorable performances along the way. "Hitman" is finally knocking on the door of a title shot and the only person seemingly standing in his way is Johny Hendricks.
Carlos Condit, Jacob Volkmann, Paulo Thiago, Rick Story, Thiago Alves and Jake Ellenberger are just a few of the top Welterweight fighters in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) who have entered the Octagon opposite Martin Kampmann and left with losses.
That's quite the hit list. It is so impressive, in fact, that "Hitman" makes the case that no other top contender in the 170-pound weight class shares similar success. Further, if he's successful against Johny Hendricks at UFC 154 next month, Kampmann feels that it will distinguish him as the clear heir apparent to the next divisional title shot.
Kampann makes his case (via Sherdog.com):
"If I win this fight, I am the No. 1 contender. Nobody's got the same resume I do in the UFC in the welterweight division. I've beaten the best guys. There's no other welterweight that's coming on the same streak that I have.... There's other guys coming up with a bunch of hype behind them, but really who have they fought? They haven't fought anybody tough. They haven't fought anybody good, but they're getting the hype train behind them. Look at the guys I've fought and compare that to anybody in the welterweight division. I've fought some of the best guys in the division."
Hard to argue otherwise, considering his two losses during that impressive stretch were close, controversial calls against Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez. Condit, the interim champion, is set to unify the belts in the main event of the same card when he takes on the incumbent kingpin, Georges St. Pierre, who is returning from a long layoff that was caused by a serious knee injury.
Indeed, the promotion appears to have the table set to crown the undisputed welterweight champion, as well as anoint the next contender, at the upcoming pay-per-view (PPV) event set for the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on Nov. 17, 2012.
Kampmann just needs to chart his own course, put destiny in "his own hands" and topple yet another big-name opponent who he feels has significant hype behind him thanks to back-to-back wins over American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) stablemates, Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck.
A big-name, hyped opponent with whom he is very familiar:
"He used to help me out with my wrestling, so I know him pretty well.... We trained together, and I feel I'm the better striker. I'm definitely much slicker than he is, but he's improved a lot, just like my wrestling has improved a lot. I've been taking guys down that have better wrestling credentials than me.... I feel definitely I would have the advantage in the standup, but he's still got heavy hands that I've got to respect and watch out for ... I usually do get punched a little bit. It's a fight -- I'm going to get punched, but I can eat a shot and I can dish it back out."
That's a dangerous game. One that Kampmann has played frequently throughout his career with mixed -- albeit exciting -- results. One that he might want to possibly avoid at all costs against a hard-hitting, one-punch slugger such as "Big Rig."
If he can, or even if he has to dig deep and turn in another blood and guts performance, he might just add another name to that impressive list.