Martin Kampmann (top) may have more weapons in his arsenal than Diego Sanchez. | Photo: Wenn
With mixed martial arts in an explosive growth phase, the spoils of success give rise to events like UFC Live 3 “Sanchez vs. Kampmann” on Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky. It pits a series of fighters against one another in some quality matches designed to establish fringe contenders and cut some excess fat from the roster.
It is a cruel world but an exciting one to watch unfold. Here is a breakdown of the matchups at UFC Live 3, which airs live on the Versus network.
Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann
The Matchup: Sanchez seemed past his better days after losing a one-sided unanimous decision to John Hathaway at UFC 114, but he showed he is still relevant at 170 pounds in dispatching tough Brazilian Paulo Thiago via decision at UFC 121. Kampmann, another middle-of-the-pack welterweight, has shown a solid mix of standup and submission savvy, dropping a split decision loss to Jake Shields in the former Strikeforce champion’s UFC debut in October.
Sanchez is one of the most intense and well-conditioned fighters in the game, and if he can play the bully role, he is extremely difficult to beat. That plays directly into Kampmann’s hands, however, as the Dane kickboxes and uses jiu-jitsu to counter his foes.
In a perfect world, there would be a 160-pound division where Sanchez could compete. Like other “tweeners,” such as Rich Franklin, Dean Lister, Joe Riggs and James Irvin, Sanchez clearly lost a lot of his relative power dropping to 155. Back at 170, his game will have to be based around a breakneck pace, stamina and being able to be the bully. Against bigger opponents that becomes a problem, but Kampmann is not a wrestler by trade, so Sanchez has a positive style matchup here.
On the feet, Kampmann will clearly have the edge. Though Sanchez’s standup from his days on “The Ultimate Fighter” has improved from non-existent to modest, Kampmann has a lot more weapons. He can kick or punch with equal efficiency, and his takedown defense has improved with the drop from middleweight.
The guess here is that Kampmann gets the better of it standing, at which point Sanchez’s switch goes off and he tries to force a balls-out grapple fest, the kind he displayed in rousing decision wars over Nick Diaz and Karo Parisyan. Sanchez is exceptionally hard to catch in submissions and has the kind of dedicated ground-and-pound one likes to see.
The Pick: Look for Sanchez to eat some shots but secure half or more of his takedown attempts, as he tries to run Kampmann out of gas. Sanchez remains undersized for a welterweight, but he should be strong and persistent enough to grind out a unanimous decision win, even as he runs into a few rough spots along the way.
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