The top contenders in the UFC’s welterweight division will take the spotlight on November 17th in Montreal, Canada’s Bell Centre at UFC 154. The main event on the card is a battle between Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit to become the undisputed champion of the welterweight division. In the co-main event, two of the 170-pound division’s top contenders, Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks are set to scrap.
Martin Kampmann was on hand to talk with reporters in Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon and stated that the plan is to finish Hendricks. “I’d love to knock out Johny, but if he gives me a chance to sneak in a submission, I’ll be happy to take that too. The bottom line is I want to finish the fight. I don’t want to go to the judges decision, I want to finish the fight – knocking him out or getting the submission, either way I’ll be a happy man.”
Kampmann’s last fight was a knockout win over Jake Ellenberger in June at The Ultimate Fighter Live finale in Las Vegas. Following the fight, Kampmann had surgery on his meniscus which he revealed on MMA Fight Corner in mid-August.
Apparently, the UFC had wanted Kampmann-Hendricks to take place in August or September, but Martin opted to have knee surgery and took time to recover. ”I had a meniscus issue that’d been bugging me for the past three fights. It was bugging me training, but it wasn’t something that was that big an issue. So I kept postponing it,” he said.
Now, the fight that could potentially name the next number one contender in the division is set. Both men involved also have much familiarity with each other. Back when Johny fought in the WEC and he was still developing in MMA, he trained at Xtreme Couture alongside Kampmann. Though both men have developed a ton since then, Martin feels that having knowledge about Hendricks’ skill set can help him in this fight.
“I definitely feel I can catch him on the feet and catch him pretty good. At the same time, Johny’s evolved a lot. His boxing’s gotten a lot better, I was helping him get his stand-up better. He was helping me with my wrestling,” Martin said of their past experiences together. “We had a beneficial training relationship. One thing he did have, even when he was very raw, he’s got good power. So, of course, you can’t come in and leave too many holes.”
Martin has been on a 3-fight win streak on his rise to the top of the welterweight division, but getting those wins has never been easy. Every fight he’s had have been all out wars, from the Diego Sanchez split decision loss to the Jake Ellenberger win. In those battles, Kampmann took a lot of punishment from his challengers, though it’s never the game plan. Coming into this fight, Martin said he’s tightened up his defense to avoid an early onslaught from Hendricks.
“I prefer to not get knocked down, but sometimes I do get hit too much and its something that I’m working on in training. I used to be a real fast starter, my first early fights, I had a lot of first round stoppages. I’d just go out and get in your face right away, that can be risky too. But then for a minute, I was starting to get to be a slow starter, coming out real slow. I had to get punched around before I started feeling comfortable in there. I’ve been trying to be more conscious, like in sparring, and start off fast right off the first round so you get in that mentality of fighting hard right from the beginning,” Martin explained.
When Martin and Johny first worked together, Martin said Hendricks was s strong wrestler with wild stand up. He described him a “stiff puncher”. Johny’s come a long way and Martin isn’t surprised by the improvements.
“He’s a very strong guy, he’s got knockout power and combine that with some of the best wrestling pedigree in the UFC, I think you’re bound to succeed. Wrestling, I think, is the best background you can have for MMA. It’s an awesome background. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been working so hard on my wrestling.”
But despite any relationship the two shared in the past, Kampmann fully intends to do everything in his power to get the W.
“I’m still going to go in there for the kill, try to finish it, I’m sure he’s going to do the same to me,” said Kampmann. “I know this opponent way better than a lot of other opponents I’ve had, so I feel confident going into the fight. I know his wrestling’s good, I know his power’s good, I’ve trained with him before. It’s easy to train for, that’s a good thing. It’s easier to train for cause you know a lot of the strong points, but at the same time you can change a lot in a couple years.”
On the same night Kampmann and Hendricks face off, they will have the opportunity to see right after their own fight, who will become the undisputed UFC Welterweight Champion. A lot is riding on what will happen. If Condit wins, he’ll defend the belt against the next challenger. If GSP wins, he may go off and fight Anderson Silva in a super fight which would put the welterweight division on hold yet again. Many believe that the winner Kampmann-Hendricks should get the next title shot. Kampmann is hungry for a shot at the title and joked that the best resolution to the scenario for him is to “knock Johny out and stay in the ring. That makes it easier. I’m just going to stay in there and one of them will have to fight me.”
“There’s a lot of buts and ifs in that whole situation, so I don’t want to give it too much thought. My main priority is beating Johny Hendricks and then I can worry about that after,” Kampmann said of the welterweight picture. “And Georges St. Pierre’s main priority should be to beat Carlos Condit. If he starts thinking ahead, he might run into a high kick and get knocked out and then it’s a completely different situation. So that’s something I have to think about after I beat Hendricks.”
Kampmann also gave his assessment on UFC 154′s main event and what he thinks could happen.
“For me it’d be better with Carlos winning, especially because I got a win on him. I know he wants the rematch. But at the same time, I’d like to fight GSP. He’s the all-time best welterweight, so that’s the guy I’d like to beat.” When asked who he gave the edge to, Kampmann stated that he previously thought GSP would outpoint Condit with his wrestling, but he’s now leaning towards Condit finishing St. Pierre.
Despite any super fight talk involving GSP and Anderson Silva, Kampmann said he thinks Silva vs Jon Jones would be the better fight.
“Beating Hendricks, I definitely just feel I deserve the shot at the title and that’s why I’m going to go beat Johny. But everything aside, I’d much rather see Anderson fight Jon Jones. [Anderson's] calling out the smaller guy. I’d want to see him fight Jon Jones, I think that’s a much more interesting fight. Not just from a personal perspective because I’d like to fight GSP, but also from a fan’s perspective. That’s a fight I’d much rather see.”