Johny Hendricks will enter the cage on a four-fight winning streak. | Dave Mandel
Martin Kampmann (20-5, 11-4 UFC) vs. Johny Hendricks (13-1, 8-1 UFC)
The Matchup: Since 2010, Kampmann has crafted a resume as impressive as anyone in the UFC’s welterweight division. He has defeated grapplers (Paulo Thiago), wrestlers (Rick Story, Jacob Volkmann), strikers (Thiago Alves) and up-and-comers (Jake Ellenberger). Factor in a couple of controversial losses to Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez and you could make a reasonable case for “The Hitman” to be 7-0 since his first-round technical knockout defeat to Paul Daley at UFC 103.
Toughness and resiliency have characterized the Dane’s most recent efforts, as he rallied from the brink of defeat against both Alves and Ellenberger. Alves battered Kampmann for the better part of two rounds, only to fall victim to a guillotine choke in the final frame at UFC on FX 2; Ellenberger dropped him with a left hook in round one at “The Ultimate Fighter 15” Finale before Kampmann rallied to finish the fight in the second stanza. Well-rounded and opportunistic, Kampmann is an easy out for no one, and if he receives a 170-pound title shot with one more victory, it will be well deserved.
Hendricks has a familiarity with Kampmann that goes beyond film study. The two men trained together previously, and Hendricks often worked with his future foe on his wrestling. A two-time NCAA national champion at Oklahoma State University, Hendricks’ credentials in this area will surpass most anyone he faces in the Octagon; Kampmann is no exception. A Team Takedown representative, Hendricks has proved his mettle against some of the division’s toughest wrestlers, with triumphs over Mike Pierce, Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck in his last three outings.
However, Hendricks has yet to face anyone with as diverse a repertoire as Kampmann. The Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts product attacks outside with crisp and technical kickboxing, inside with short power punches and knees and from his back with an active submission game. Such versatility is part of the reason why Kampmann is almost never out of a fight. Get careless on the feet and he connects with a flurry; take a breather on the canvas and he is cinching a choke. One major concern for Kampmann is that he sometimes needs to eat a few shots to really get going. While Hendricks is not a fluid all-around striker, his powerful left hook might not give the usually durable Kampmann an opportunity to recover.
The Pick: Hendricks should be the bully, setting up shots with power punches and landing dirty boxing and knees in tie-ups. Kampmann’s takedown defense has historically been solid, but Hendricks is a level above most of the opponents he has faced. Kampmann will struggle to stay on the outside, as Hendricks keeps the pressure on and earns a three-round verdict.
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