While it wasn't given a huge promotional push, two of the most talented welterweights in the world battled last night (June 1, 2012) as Martin Kampmann took on Jake Ellenberger in the main event of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Live Finale in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ellenberger entered the bout as a rightful favorite, having won six straight bouts in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and possessing what many consider the most powerful fists in the entire division.
He would put Kampmann in some serious trouble on a couple occasions, but "The Hitman" showcased some incredible recovery and not only fought back valiantly, but actually scored a dramatic come-from-behind stoppage finish.
So how did Kampmann pull off the upset? And what happens next for both elite welterweights?
Follow me after the jump for our Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Ellenber Ultimate Fighter Live Finale post-fight review and analysis:
Kampmann has a reputation for being a slow starter and Ellenberger nearly made him pay early, cracking the Dane on the chin with a huge left hand during an opening flurry that sent "The Hitman" reeling to the canvas against the fence in the opening 30 seconds of the fight.
"The Juggernaut" wildly began throwing punches on the ground, hoping to score that big swarming knockout, but all he really did was give Kampmann an opportunity to rest, relax and recover back to 100 percent.
Ellenberger was only capable of finishing the bout in the immediate follow-up to dropping the Dane, and once Kampmann had recovered and was fishing for a guillotine choke, he was forced to back off and actually let "The Hitman" back to his feet.
The tides would turn early in the second round as Kampmann blasted Ellenberger with a sharp right hand, backing him into the fence where he would attempt to swarm him with a flurry of strikes, but he actually found himself in a shoot out as "The Juggernaught" traded heavy leather, connecting heavily on the Xtreme Couture fighter's nose and busting him up for about the 100th time of his career.
Despite seemingly having Kampmann hurt, Ellenberger backed off and reset, allowing the Dane to recover and start stalking him. Despite bleeding profusely, it was Kampmann who became the aggressor and the fight would turn in the blink of an eye just seconds later.
As Ellenberger again started to lunge inside, Kampmann caught him by surprise with a short right hand which put the Nebraska native on rubbery legs.
Smelling blood, Kampmann charged forwards, putting Ellenberger into a Thai clinch and battering him with a trio of knees. The latter of the knees sent "The Juggernaut" crashing to the canvas where, after three brief follow-up strikes, the referee stepped in and dragged Kampmann off. It was a tremendous come-from-behind performance by the dangerous Dane.
For Jake Ellenberger, his power was just as dangerous as ever. No one has put Martin Kampmann in that much trouble so early into a fight before, but his problem isn't his stand-up, it's just about everything else. When he had Kampmann hurt, he did not secure a decent position on the ground where he could finish him off with strikes, instead charging in wildly and giving Kampmann all the time in the world he needed to recover. Also, once Kampmann had gotten his wits back, there was no way Ellenberger was going to hurt him again on the ground, but he stuck around there for at least another two minutes anyways.
By giving Kampmann all that time to recover instead of forcing him to stand and trade again quickly, he completely blew an opportunity to potentially take the Xtreme Couture fighter out. Ellenberger isn't much of a "stand-and-trade" type of fighter in the pocket. He prefers to initiate by lunging forward and connecting with power but in doing so, he became predictable. Once Kampmann started stalking, his short right hand was actually walked right into by Ellenberger which set up the finishing sequence.
Despite being finished on the big stage, Ellenberger still has all the potential in the world. I wouldn't be surprised to see him fight someone like Josh Koscheck next or perhaps someone like Thiago Alves (once he heals up) or perhaps the upcoming loser of the Charlie Brenneman vs. Erick Silva fight.
For Martin Kampmann, no one can doubt his toughness. Time and time again he gets hit and not only bounces back, but this is the second fight in a row in which he came back and scored a finish. Other than that opening sequence, he was never in any real danger for the remainder of the fight and that's incredibly impressive against a powerhouse like Ellenberger. His recovery and response to being hurt was impeccable and his counter striking in the second round was as good as it's ever been.
It seems like the UFC is really pushing a number one contender fight against Johny Hendricks next for Kampmann. With Carlos Condit waiting on the sidelines for Georges St. Pierre, that honestly is the only fight that makes sense at this point in time.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Was your jaw on the floor after Kampmann not only survived that opening flurry but came back and won? Did you ever think that "The Hitman" would stop Ellenberger via strikes? Is he championship material?
For complete Ultimate Fighter Live Finale results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.