UFC Fight Night 27 is headlined by a Welterweight rematch expected to be even more entertaining than the first when "The Natural Born Killer" Carlos Condit squares off against "The Hitman" Martin Kampmann. The two first met at UFC Fight Night 18 three years ago in Nashville, Tenn., when Kampmann was awarded a razor-thin split decision.
Both men have been at the heap of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 170-pound division over the past few years, with Condit winning the interim title and Kampmann continuously being considered a possible top contender.
Meanwhile, the "Prelims," which can be seen on FOX Sports 2 and Facebook, comprises six appealing scraps, but the one that catches the eye is a bout between Indiana-born Darren Elkins and Hatsui Hioki.
Here is another installment of "The Top Two" as we break down the most intriguing fights to watch on the FOX Sports 1 main card and the "Prelims" under card from Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., tomorrow night (Weds., Aug, 28, 2013):
Carlos Condit vs. Martin Kampmann
The second meeting between these two welterweights could not come any sooner, and hopefully they can shed some light on who deserves to be considered the best in the division apart from Georges St. Pierre and Johny Hendricks.
Both men are coming off losses to current No.1-ranked title challenger, Hendricks, and to be considered as a legitimate threat to the champion (whomever that may be after UFC 167), they can prove their worth in primetime.
Condit, the former UFC Interim Welterweight champion, is one of the best pure-bred fighters on the planet. Although he has two-straight losses at the hands of St. Pierre and Hendricks, it would be foolish to count those as sufferance. Condit's only other loss in the UFC came from Kampmann, which makes this fight all the more salivating. He was undefeated in World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) -- being its final welterweight champion and winning every single fight by way of stoppage. Before his loss to St. Pierre at UFC 154, he beat Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy, Dong-Hyun Kim, and Nick Diaz; if that is not impressive, find someone else who can match that competition in the present day.
Condit's submissions are as good as Kampmann's, but maybe the Dane has an edge in that territory. Kampmann is definitely not as good as fighting off his back in comparison to the New Mexico native, who may be the best in the world in that specific area.
Kampmann seems to have difficulty delivering when it matters most and that is when he is one win away from a title shot. He came up short against Paul Daley, Jake Shields and Hendricks. If "The Hitman" wants to seriously be considered a legitimate contender, he needs to beat up somebody who leads his bosses to believe his shot is compulsory.
With that being said for Kampmann, Condit is that exact opponent -- even though an immediate title shot is unlikely, the win will raise a few eyebrows.
Kampmann cannot afford to take his time against "Natural Born Killer," who usually wastes no time getting right into the action. Kampmann's decision to strike or go to the ground will be eagerly anticipated, but judging from the kickboxer's past, he will not back down from anyone when it comes to trading blows.
Their first fight took place at UFC Fight Night 18 in Nashville, Tenn., in April 2009. And although Kampmann edged Condit in a split decision, it could have gone either way. Kampmann relentlessly attacked with submissions, while Condit fought them off and got the better of him in the stand up department, splitting open Kampmann early on in the fight.
Both had their moments and both could have easily taken home the victory, but on that given night, Kampmann prevailed.
Condit is not the same fighter he was back then and the same could be said for Kampmann -- both have improved tremendously and maybe the big league jitters got to "Natural Born Killer" three years ago. We can expect something different, but there is also psychological warfare that pencil itself into rematches.
How much will that factor in for Condit?
An interesting facet to this rematch is that Condit will have Greg Jackson in his corner (perhaps the master of game planning) and knowing his approach, that camp will work on Condit's flaws he showed in the first fight and will work on a plan that will not resemble Condit's performance three years ago.
A similar fight could emerge on Wednesday night, but that is said with a grain of salt. One thing is for sure -- the Welterweight picture gets a little clearer this week.
Hatsui Hioki vs. Darren Elkins
Hatsui Hioki will look to avoid a list of Japanese fighters who found success in their homeland but could not do so well on American soil when they reached the ultimate proving ground, with names like Norifumi Yamamoto, Michihiro Omigawa, Mizuto Hirota and Takanori Gomi coming to mind.
Hioki is more accomplished that people give him credit for in his 11-year career -- being a former Sengoku, Shooto and TKO champion with wins over Mark Hominick (twice), Marlon Sandro, Jeff Curran and George Roop. He is even (2-2) in his time with the UFC. And although the veteran was riding a six-fight win streak before losses to Ricardo Lamas and Clay Guida, a third loss in a row may signal the end for a man who was supposed to give Jose Aldo a run for his money.
It is believed that Hioki may have won the fight against Guida, but "The Carpenter" drowned out the attacks of the "Iron Broom" by pinning him down and exposing Hioki's weaknesses in wrestling. Hioki was constantly tagging Guida on the feet and although Guida had some promising moments in the striking as well, Hioki was too dangerous to trade with.
He should avoid the ground at all costs with Elkins, even though he has 12 submission wins out of a possible 26. Hioki could wrong us and show his vast improvements in the grappling-based style, but his opponent is as good as they come, possessing some of the best wrestling in the Featherweight division.
That being said, he needs the victory more than his opponent does and an emphatic win or at least a heartfelt performance is mandatory to secure his job.
Elkins is fully aware of Hioki's desperation and the fact that he has never been finished in his illustrious 34-fight career. Elkins is a former wrestling champion in his home state of Indiana and what better way to showcase what he learned in his youth leading up to his mixed martial arts (MMA) career in front of his supporters. Elkins was riding a whopping five-fight win streak -- with wins over Diego Brandao, Michihiro Omigawa and Steven Siler -- before he succumbed to Chad Mendes by way of strikes back in April 2013. He took that fight on short notice and maybe Elkins was feeling the rush of confidence and a slight touch of invisibility before his UFC on Fox 7 bout.
Elkins can trade, too. He showcased his power against the likes of Antonio Carvalho and Duane Ludwig under the UFC banner, but he should not be criticized if he decides to fight smart against a decorated striker like Hioki unless he lies on top of him and does nothing.
But, Elkins is quite the workhorse.
Regardless, this fight could have been on the main card had both fighters won their last contests. And it will not even headline the "Prelims" on Fox Sports 2; however, it sure as hell will be a hotly-contested one, no matter where the 145-pound fight goes.