In a battle between two of the most competent welterweight strikers on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) roster last night (March 2, 2012) in the main event of UFC on FX 2, Martin Kampmann and Thiago Alves fought for the finish until the final minute.
Surprisingly, the finish actually came in that last 60 seconds.
Alves had Kampmann in trouble and was basically in cruise control after seemingly winning the first two rounds of the fight.
So what did he do with just 50 seconds remaining which resulted in a big fat post-fight bonus for Kampmann instead? Also, where do both men go from here?
Follow me after the jump for our Martin Kampmann vs. Thiago Alves UFC on FX 2 post-fight review and analysis:
Alves looked to establish his leg kicks early, landing several crisp low strikes in the opening minute and Kampmann's gameplan appeared to be to close the distance and either strike or work for takedowns from the clinch.
Despite the different gameplans, it was Kampmann who scores the most significant strike of the fight just 90 seconds in when he tattooed Alves with a beautiful front kick to the chin. "The Hitman" followed up with knees to the body and a takedown, but he couldn't fully capitalize on his advantage.
The American Top Team fighter bounced back against Kampmann, getting back to his feet and later reversing a clinch attempt with a takedown of his own, and he would remain in top position for nearly the final two minutes of the round, even passing to mount for a full minute to steal back the momentum.
From then on, the fight was almost all Alves as he would land the most powerful punches and kicks while Kampmann tries to counter but couldn't connect with anything of significance. Kampmann repeatedly tried to take the fight to the ground, but Alves was aware of his intentions and was able to shrug off just about every attempt.
Things looked bleak for Kampmann, and while he pressed the action in the third, he seemed well on his way to losing a decision, that is, until Alves landed some nice offense inside and decided to put an exclamation point on the round by shooting in for a takedown with just 58 seconds left in the fight.
Unfortunately for Alves, he left his head directly underneath Kampmann's left armpit in the process and "The Hitman" was already locking in a guillotine choke before his back hit the canvas. Perhaps benefiting from a fortunate bounce off the cage on teh way down, the Dane was able to roll directly into mount which only made his guillotine choke tighter and Alves was in no-man's land and, unable to break the hold, was forced to tap out with just 48 seconds remaining.
For Thiago Alves, he has no one else to blame but himself for the finish to this fight. He had this bout in the bag and all he had to do was play keep-away in the final 60 seconds, but he decided to shoot for a takedown which put him at risk of just about the only way Kampmann could finish the fight, which was his powerful guillotine choke. Kampmann is a good striker, but it's extremely unlikely that he would have been able to land a knockout blow in the final minute after failing to do so in the first 14. Perhaps Alves' top control in the first round gave him a false sense of security but this decision was Dan Hardy-esque, except even worse because he was actually about to win the fight.
There are plenty of fights to make for Alves, it just depends how far down he's willing to go in competition level. The first fight fans would likely crave is Diego Sanchez, although both men share the same manager. If that's not possible, there are plenty of other mid level welterweights coming off a loss like Mike Pierce, Claude Patrick or if the UFC is really feeling frisky, they could throw him against top prospect Erick Silva.
For Martin Kampmann, this fight was the true testament of never giving up. He was getting beat in nearly all areas, but he kept pushing the action and trying to score a finish in the third round. When an opportunity presented itself, he didn't hesitate and instead, immediately seized it and squeezed that choke for all he was worth. He probably could do better than to lose the middle 12 minutes of that fight, but he definitely pulled off a clutch finish when he needed it and he deserves recognition.
There are plenty of big fights to make for Kampmann next. If Jake Ellenberger won't be fighting Condit for the title, that would be a perfectly suitable match to make. Other possibilities include a rematch with Jake Shields, a fight Kampmann felt he won the first time around and it's a loss he would love to avenge as both men are in a similar position at welterweight. Lastly, he could fight Rory MacDonald if "Ares" is able to get past Che Mills in his next bout.
"The Hitman" is definitely knocking on the door of the top contenders at welterweight after that surprise submission.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did Kampmann win the fight or did Alves blow it? Where would you rank Kampmann at welterweight after that big victory?