Kampmann’s Comeback Starts in London

By Tim Leidecker Jun 4, 2008
He was one step away from a shot at Anderson Silva and the UFC middleweight title when disaster struck.

Martin Kampmann (Pictures) blew out his knee, and for the 16 months since his injury, he has waited on the sidelines and watched fighters like Michael Bisping (Pictures) and Yushin Okami (Pictures) pass him in the rankings. Now the 26-year-old Dane finds himself in the back of the line again.

At the same time, "Hitman" is happy just to return to the Octagon.

"I've been rehabbing my knee for quite a while, then getting back into training slowly one step at a time," Kampmann told Sherdog.com. "For the last couple of months, I've been back here in Vegas, training pretty hard for my fight."

His return bout takes place Saturday in London against fellow striker Jorge Rivera (Pictures). On British soil Rivera is 4-1, with his lone defeat coming at the hands of Anderson Silva. He also recently ruined Kendall Grove (Pictures)'s comeback fight by knocking him out in a mere 80 seconds.

"I wasn't happy about him beating Kendall because he's a friend and a training partner of mine," Kampmann said. "His record doesn't bother me, though. It doesn't matter if we fight in the U.K. or the U.S. -- the result is still going to be the same."

Even after more than a year on the shelf, Kampmann remains optimistic for his middleweight encounter with Rivera.

"Jorge is a tough guy but seems to be a little inconsistent," he said. "Sometimes he doesn't look that good, and other times he's a beast, so I'm preparing for the worst. I'm ready to take the fight anywhere it goes. I'll trade with him or I'll go to the mat with him -- either way I'm sure I can beat him. My knee is completely healed up, and I'm ready to fight."

London will be the closest to home Kampmann has fought in two and a half years. Obviously the likeable fighter from Aarhus, Denmark, is hoping for support from his countrymen.

"I expect a lot of people from back home to be coming over now that it's a lot closer than usually," he said. "That's going to be cool. I have friends and fans from the U.K., too, so I'm sure there's going to be good support for my fight."

Xtreme Couture, the camp where Kampmann prepares when he is in the United States, has recently added some excellent new trainers and sparring partners. Kampmann, who holds the rank of "captain" at the Las Vegas gym, meaning that he is one of the main instructors, is full of praise for his new teammates.

"Shawn Tompkins (Pictures) has been there for a while now, and he's got a great insight in the stand-up game," he said. "Ronaldo Jacaré and Robert Drysdale have come in more recently, and obviously they have a lot of skills. I have learned a lot from both of them. I also had the pleasure of cornering Jacaré for his last fight, and he looked great. I think he will win the [Dream middleweight] tourney."

By training with world-class teammates like the aforementioned trio, Kampmann, who started out as a pure kickboxer six years ago, has added some new assets to his already well-rounded game.

"You don't really improve anything by sitting on the couch," he said. "So for the first six months after injuring my knee, I didn't have the chance to do much. But after that, I've been trying to improve all aspects of my game. I worked a lot on my wrestling lately; I feel it has gotten better."

In no way overlooking the tough-as-nails Rivera, Kampmann hasn't lost sight of his ultimate goal in the UFC: a title fight against Anderson Silva.

"He's a tough guy, really bad ass," Kampmann said. "I enjoy watching him fight. Everybody can be beaten though, and that includes him, too."

Kampmann, who is 3-0 in the UFC and 15-2 overall, could get a chance to prove that point in a future title bout. To resume his march down the road to Silva, however, he must first go through Rivera.
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