Two former foes will wage war once again tomorrow night (Weds., Aug. 28, 2013), when Carlos Condit faces off with Martin Kampmann in the Welterweight main event of UFC Fight Night 27 from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Condit is an experienced former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Interim 170-pound titleholder and World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) Welterweight champion who is looking to right the ship after dropping two straight to the cream of the crop in his division, division champion Georges St. Pierre and current No. 1-ranked title contender Johny Hendricks. He'll have no easy task in dispatching well-rounded Octagon veteran Kampmann, who has 16 UFC bouts under his belt. "The Hitman" owns a win over Condit back in 2009, but it was a close split decision.
The tensions will run high as Condit and Kampmann fight to stay relevant in the packed weight class. What's it going to take for each fighter to emerge victorious in Indianapolis?
Record: 28-7 overall, 5-3 UFC
Key Wins: Nick Diaz (UFC 144), Rory MacDonald (UFC 115), Jake Ellenberger (UFC Fight Night 19), Dong Hyun Kim (UFC 132)
Key Losses: Georges St. Pierre (UFC 154), Johny Hendricks (UFC 158), Martin Kampmann (UFC Fight Night 18)
How he got here: Condit ran up an undefeated (8-0) record fighting for regional mixed martial arts (MMA) promotions in New Mexico and Colorado before graduating to bigger shows in Pancrase and Rumble on the Rock (ROTR). He made his way to the ROTR Welterweight Tournament Finals in April 2006 before losing to eventual Strikeforce Middleweight champion Jake Shields.
Condit dropped his next bout to current UFC Lightweight Pat Healy, but righted the ship by winning three in a row in Pancrase, prompting a move to the WEC, which proved to be a showcase for Condit's skills. And he found himself fighting for the belt after submitting Kyle Jensen in his promotional debut at WEC 25. "Natural Born Killer" won the vacant belt by defeating John Alessio with a rear naked choke in March 2006. He would go to defend the strap three times, earning a spot on the UFC roster in the process.
Condit made his Octagon debut at UFC Fight Night 18 in the first clash of these talented combatants. The fight was a back-and-forth war that saw both fighters land some good strikes. The real story of the bout was in the grappling department, as each combatant took their opponent down. However, Kampmann held a slight edge with several submission attempts. It ultimately came down to the judges' scorecards, giving Kampmann a split decision victory.
Condit may have lost that night, but there were better things to come for the young destroyer from New Mexico.
Eager to prove himself, Condit racked up five quality wins in the span of roughly 2.5 years, beating top-level fighters Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy, "Stun Gun" Kim and finally Nick Diaz for the UFC Interim Welterweight championship at UFC 144. It was a run that solidified Condit as a divisional stalwart, and he chose to fight the best by waiting for Georges St. Pierre to heal from major ACL surgery.
The two top-ranked fighters took to the Octagon at UFC 154 in St. Pierre's first fight since April of 2011. While Condit fought valiantly, he was taken to the mat on several occasions and battered with St. Pierre's patented ground-and-pound. Despite rocking St. Pierre with a head kick in the third round, Condit fell short of his bid to unify the titles.
From there, he was booked for a rematch at UFC 158 against rising prospect Rory MacDonald, whom he had defeated with a technical knockout at UFC 115. When MacDonald was forced to withdraw because of injury, Hendricks -- who was already facing Ellenberger on the same card -- stepped in to face Condit. Condit and Hendricks fought a rousing war that saw "Natural Born Killer" pour on the heat in the final frame.
However, he was again taken down several times early on, and ultimately lost a unanimous decision. Condit has fought the best in the world, but he still finds himself having to win to avoid the dreaded three-fight losing streak.
How he gets it done: Condit is an impressive MMA fighter who mixes up his game supremely, evident by his 13 submissions and 13 (technical) knockout finishes throughout his career. His nickname definitely hold true thanks to his insane finishing rate.
Condit also has incredible toughness, evident by his willingness to endure in the face of adversity against his last two opponents. He was taken down by two of the best wrestlers in the sport, yet continued to get up and deal damage of his own. While he ended up on the short end of those two fights, there's no doubt that he's one of the best fighters on the planet.
His kickboxing is very sharp, as his combination of power and accuracy has the potential to knockout any Welterweight. He also possesses a great mental mindset thanks in part to his vaunted head coach Greg Jackson. Against Kampmann, Condit may want to avenge his past defeat, but also has the mental wherewithal to keep his emotions in check.
The only knock on Condit recently has been his wrestling defense. Against Kampmann, that's going to be a concern because "Hitman" showed the ability to throw Condit from the clinch in their first fight. It's going to be a close match on the feet, and Condit has never been knocked out in his career.
On the contrary, he has been submitted three times, and Kampmann is definitely no slouch in the grappling department, constantly looking for guillotine chokes. Condit will look to use his crisp striking to stick and move, staying just out of Kampmann's range. A finish may be hard to come by, but if anyone can get the stoppage, it's Condit.
Record: 20-6 overall, 11-5 UFC
Key Wins: Carlos Condit (UFC Fight Night 18), Jake Ellenberger (TUF 15 Finale), Thiago Alves (UFC on FX 2)
Key Losses: Johny Hendricks (UFC 154), Jake Shields (UFC 121), Diego Sanchez (UFC on Versus 3)
How he got here: "Hitman" started out fighting in Europe, racking up an 8-1 record while winning the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship (CWFC) Middleweight championship before making his way to the United States. He had one fight in America, a technical knockout stoppage over Edwin Aguilar at a World Fighting Alliance (WFA) event before making his Octagon debut with a submission over Crafton Wallace in Aug. 2006.
From there, Kampmann began to pile up wins over in the Octagon, dispatching Thales Leites, Drew McFedries, and Jorge Rivera before losing to Nate Marquardt at UFC 88. He rebounded with two wins over Alexandre Barros and Condit before a surprising technical knockout loss to the debuting Paul Daley at UFC 103.
In early 2011, Kampmann fought Diego Sanchez in a brutal, bloody war at UFC on Versus 3. Although he earned a "Fight of the Night" bonus, Kampmann lost another close split decision despite leaving Sanchez's face a swollen mess. Kampmann continued his rollercoaster ride by defeating Rick Story, Alves and Ellenberger. He was initially outstruck by both Alves and Ellenberger, but showed incredible resiliency to come back and finish both of the powerful Welterweights.
That got him a bout with rising power puncher Hendricks at UFC 154. It was not Kampmann's finest hour, as he was knocked out in a mere 46 seconds, signaling Hendricks' arrival as a true title contender. UFC Fight Night 27 will be his first action since Nov. 2012.
And he'll have a lot of pressure on his shoulders against Condit.
How he gets it done: Kampmann mixes up his game well, having eight knockout wins and seven submissions to his credit. Although he's a great kickboxer in his own right, standing and trading with a dangerous striker like Condit is most likely not in his best interest. Condit's never been knocked out, but he has been submitted.
Condit also hasn't shown that he can consistently avoid takedowns, either, so Kampmann is well served to take this fight to the ground in search of a submission. It won't be easy to lock up a fight-ending hold on "Natural Born Killer," but if Kampmann can pull it off, he'll send a message to the stacked division that he's back.
A slight case of ring rust could affect Kampmann in this bout -- it's no easy task to face off with a fighter like Condit after nine months off. All in all, Kampmann has a lot to prove in Indianapolis if he wants to remain near the top of the divisional food chain.
Thankfully, Kampmann holds the distinction of having beaten Condit before. While both fighters have definitely evolved since that day, it may give him the extra confidence boost need to pull out a victory. His wrestling was on point in the first match, and it should be his go-to skill the second time around, too.
The Bottom Line From Indianapolis: The bottom line here is that this is going to be a war of two extremely exciting headhunters. Neither fighter will give an inch, and this has "Fight of the Night" written all over it. These warriors have done battle before, so it's going to be a chess match to see who can keep the other one guessing.
The winner will get back on track with a victory over a top-flight opponent, while the loser will be on a major slide. The stakes will be high at UFC Fight Night 27's main event, which has the makings of another instant classic.
Which Welterweight star will stay near the top of MMA's most talented divisions? Let us know your thoughts below!