[Opinion] A Fistful Of Reality: Why Kampmann & Hendricks Will Steal The Show At UFC 154
After 19 months away from the sport, one of the biggest names in MMA returns to The Octagon on Saturday night. UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre finally does battle with Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit. The buyrate will probably end up being one of the biggest of the year, but when all is said and done, Martin Kampmann and Johnny Hendricks’ fight will probably end up stealing the show and may create the next welterweight challenger in the process.
With both fighters riding a wave of momentum, there is no doubt that Kampmann and Hendricks are reaching the crest of their career, and their full potential is starting to be realized. With Hendricks’ quick stoppage of Jon Fitch, via knockout at UFC 141, he was thrust into the discussion of future challengers for GSP’s title. Winning isn’t something that was new to Hendricks however, as he holds a 14-1 MMA record and is riding a four fight win streak. During his most recent streak he has dealt defeats to Koscheck, Fitch, Pierce and Waldburger; his wins have come through knockout, decision, and even submission, showing that he is a dangerous opponent in all aspects of MMA. It is his wrestling however that gives most opponents the biggest problem. Having won the NCAA Division I wrestling title twice while at Oklahoma State University, during both 2005 and 2006, he is one of the finest of his craft within his career.
If one word was to define Martin Kampmann, it would be perseverance. Time and time again, he has had his back to the wall in a fight and somehow come out on top. Battered, bruised, and bloody, he has connected with perfect punches to end matches. Tables have been instantly turned with unexpected submissions he has applied to his opponents. Even on the losing end in close decisions, he has come out as a winner with Fight of the Night bonuses and a growing fan-base that recognizes a gritty, workingman’s fighter when they see one. With a 20-5 record (11-4 in the UFC) he has proven that he is worth going out of the way to watch over the years.
When Kampmann and Hendricks meet, there isn’t the slightest possibility that either of them with end up humping and grinding for a decision win. Both competitors offer some of the best bang for the buck, and both bring bell-to-bell action that is seldom topped by others in MMA. Put both of them in a cage together, and you are guaranteed to witness a fight in which something epic is taking place. While Georges St. Pierre has become known as Mr. Decision over his past four fights, both competitors don’t look to snuggle with their opponents like their Canadian counterpart has become infamous for. Kampmann will look to use his striking and kickboxing to keep Hendricks at bay; Hendricks will probably utilize a combination of striking and take-down attempts to keep his opponent backing up throughout the night. It’s through his superior wrestling that he may end up overwhelming the Dane, but taking it to the mat may mean setting himself up for a submission, which Kampmann has won several fights with over the years.
The winner that emerges on Saturday night will be the man that can claim next shot at the UFC Welterweight Championship. Depending on the winner on the title fight, when that next challenge takes place will vary. If Condit takes home the belt to New Mexico, Kampmann or Hendricks will get a shot a lot quicker than if GSP has a successful return to The Octagon. GSP is being positioned for a super-fight with Anderson Silva, and a win by him means that the belt will sit on the shelf for, at least, another year while he builds up a fight outside of his weight with Silva. With so many belts being stagnant due to injuries to champions, it would be refreshing to see a new champion and a potential future champion emerge at UFC 154. The ball is in Kampmann and Hendricks’ court, they have what it takes to hit the game winner.