No one was more disappointed following UFC 121 last October than Martin Kampmann.
Kampmann faced off against former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields, who was making his UFC debut and needed just one win to earn a title shot against welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. However, Kampmann proved to be an incredible challenge for Shields, just barely losing on the judges’ scorecards by split decision.
Yet as imprssive as his performance was, Kampmann took the loss hard, understanding whole-heartedly what a win in that position would have done for him in a welterweight division desperate for contenders. The fact that he completely believes that he could have and should have won that fight made it all the more disappointing.
“I was really disappointed in my performance,” Kampmann told HeavyMMA.com. “I didn’t fight the way I should have. I made a lot of mistakes in that fight. I could’ve won the fight. I should’ve won the fight, but I gave the victory away by making stupid mistakes. In the heat of the moment you do stupid things and I wish I could go back and change it and fight a smarter fight because I definitely believe I can beat Jake Shields. No doubt in my mind, I can beat Jake Shields.”
Regardless of his opinion on the Shields fight, Kampmann says that it is now in the past and that he must look forward to the future set before him by the UFC. Right now, the Kampmann’s future involves an intriguing match up with former lightweight top contender Diego Sanchez in the main event of UFC on Versus 3.
Sanchez, who has recently disposed of his nickname “Nightmare” and insists he has permanently exiled himself from the 155 lb. division, explained in the media call last week that he has refocused and done away with the negativity in his life. The news does not faze Kampmann, however, as he has been training for the most focused and best Sanchez he could possibly imagine.
“Good for him if he’s refocused,” Kampmann said. “When I train for him, I expect the best Diego Sanchez to show up and that’s what I want. I want the best fight that he can give me. I think he looked really good in his last fight against Paulo Thiago. I think he looked a lot better in that fight than he had earlier, so I think he is definitely back to his old self.”
Kampmann enters this contest on a one-fight losing streak after winning four of his last five contests. Meanwhile, Sanchez’s victory over Paulo Thiago at UFC 121 snapped a two-fight losing streak and has him back to his winning ways.
Still, regardless of each fighter’s last contest, Kampmann is still widely regarded as the better welterweight due to what he has done in the division in recent history. Though he may come into this contest as a favorite, he has never been one to disregard an opponent and ignore the potential threats. The case remains the same when looking at the threats and problems a man like Sanchez can pose in the cage when the Octagon door is closed.
“I think Diego Sanchez is a dangerous opponent. He’s been jumping up and down between welterweight and lightweight, but he fought for the lightweight title and he’s got some wins over some really good, tough welterweights. He’s definitely a real dangerous fight whichever weight division he chooses to fight in, so I think he poses a real threat, and I look forward to the fight. I think a win over him is definitely going to propel me closer to where I want to be and that’s closer to a title shot.”
Sanchez may be undergoing changes, but one thing that has always been constant with him is his exhilarating style of fighting. Just look back on his fight against Clay Guida in 2009 and you will understand exactly what he is all about.
Similarly, Kampmann has never been one to go out looking to grind away at his opponent in hopes of earning a decision. And that is why the Xtreme Couture product is confident that this main event will go above and beyond any expectations.
“I think it’s going to be a great fight. He’s going to fight. He’s not going to just grind out a boring decision. He’s there to fight you and I think that makes good fights. When you have a guy who wants to fight and I want to fight, that’s got the recipe for a good fight. I think it’s going to be action packed.”
Kampmann’s concern for putting on an exciting fight is certainly admirable, especially in the eyes of the fans who want nothing more than a riveting main event on March 3. But a bigger picture awaits him if he should walk away a winner.
Long struggling to break through into the absolute elite group of welterweights, Kampmann is granted an opportunity against Sanchez to catapult himself back into the 170 lb. title mix, which is exactly where he wants to be. But Kampmann is not one to worry about title shots. His focus is, and always has been, on winning fights and letting everything else fall into place.
“That’s totally up to the UFC (to determine) who gets a title shot. Right now my goal is to win my fights and keep winning. I’d like to go undefeated the rest of the year. (If I keep) winning my fights, everything’s going to come by itself.”
“My focus is on winning my fights and putting on good performances, and then the rest will come.”