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“The Doggy Bag” gives you the opportunity to speak about what is on your mind from time to time. Our reporters, columnists, radio hosts and editors will chime in with their answers and thoughts, so keep the emails coming.
In this edition, readers are looking at some sticky situations for prizefighters. In the very near future, some notable MMA faces are going to have to make the best of bad situations. Who will make the lemonade while the others cry on their citrus?
Martin Kampmann’s winning streak and if he can shed his rep as a gatekeeper. Daniel Cormier’s thrilling rise and how it impacts his chances to challenge for the UFC title. Jon Jones’ DUI and what it means for his star power. Jason Miller’s UFC flameout, retirement and what it means for the “Mayhem” brand. Let’s not forget injury talk, either. These are the issues that have marked the recent history of MMA, and the fallout will shape crucial contours of the sport’s future.
MMA is throwing out wrenches left, right and center. Which of these fighters will be keen enough to grab one and build with it?
Kampmann’s last three fights have seen him beat three very good welterweights, and the last two wins came in thrilling fashion. Unfortunately, I find myself so bored when Kampmann wins, even in thrilling fashion, because I can’t see him as anything more than a gatekeeper. How am I supposed to get excited for this guy against Georges St. Pierre? I even think Carlos Condit smashes him in a rematch. I just can’t get over that image, no matter how much he wins. What’s wrong with me? -- Jake from Virginia
Jordan Breen, administrative editor: This isn't a masturbation-in-a-Catholic-house question. There's nothing “wrong” with you at all. Rather, you've got one of the most common forms of cognitive bias in prizefighting.
Your situation isn’t unfamiliar. Why do people think Stefan Struve is in intense, immediate peril any time he faces a heavyweight who can punch, no matter how bad that opponent is on the ground? Why do people still expect St. Pierre to go down in a heap any time he gets punched? Why was Chael Sonnen known simply as a “screamer” until he discovered that it was (or wasn’t) low-T? People are powerfully impacted by the psycho-visual cues they store away. If a fighter gets crushed unceremoniously in a high-profile fight, it often takes willful effort to recalibrate and correct how we think about this athlete.
With Kampmann, you undoubtedly have an image of the Paul Daley fight in your mind, maybe even Kampmann losing some close decisions. However, no one since Nate Marquardt has really, beyond question, ruined Kampmann’s day. He obviously beat Diego Sanchez, but judges didn’t care. The bout with Jake Shields was nip-tuck, super close. His loss to Daley featured Kampmann getting beaten, for sure, but we’ve come to find out that’s his calling. Based on what we know now, is it crazy to think Kampmann could’ve held out and tapped Daley later if Yves Lavigne gave him a chance?
So, the Dane could easily be on a 10-fight winning streak. He is ostensibly going into a title eliminator with Johny Hendricks, a fighter who he could excel against, especially over 25 minutes. Kampmann is super tough, well-rounded and a sneaky finisher. If you get lazy, one flurry of strikes can end it or one arm under your neck creates a guillotine that makes all your hard work for naught. Kampmann isn’t a Jon Jones-level offensive fighter, but he’s a high-level fighter in, at worst, MMA’s second-best division. If you screw up against this man, you will pay the price.
I’m not sure people will ever “believe” that Kampmann is the guy to beat St. Pierre or to even replicate his win over Condit. However, in five-rounders, Kampmann will always have a chance, and he can strike and submit well enough to have some flexibility.
I still think Kampmann’s rep as “gatekeeper to the stars” might be appropriate. However, at the very least, he’s done enough, not just to get himself a fight away from a UFC title bid but to earn enough psychological slack with MMA onlookers that their reactions to his pursuits shouldn’t be “What? Martin Kampmann? Are you serious?” If a day does come when Kampmann becomes the first Danish UFC title challenger, the MMA world should simply say, “Wow, what a testament to keeping your nose to the grindstone and never submitting to the odds and B.S. that comes with being a UFC fighter.”
And, if you’re going to bet on him, always take the finish and never the points.
Continue Reading » Page Two: D.C.'s UFC M.O.