Headlining UFC Fight Night 27 are two elite welterweights meeting for the second time. Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann will rematch more than four years after their first meeting, which marked Condit’s debut in the UFC. Kampmann won that contest by split decision. Both fighters will undoubtedly be looking to win this one dominantly. Both fighters also are coming off of losses to #1 contender and title challenger Johny Hendricks, so a win here is strongly needed, especially for Condit who has lost his last two fights.
Martin Kampmann (20-6 overall, 11-5 UFC)
Strengths: Well-rounded, tough and durable, just plain lucky
Weaknesses: Takes a lot of punishment
Carlos Condit (28-7 overall, 5-3 UFC)
Strengths: Elite kickboxing, versatile striker, chin of the highest grade iron
Both of these guys are violent, capable and dangerous fighters anywhere the fight goes. Condit specializes in Muay Thai and causes destruction with his array of kicks, knees and elbows. He’s a very technical fighter who fights smart and poised. Mix that with his iron chin and you have an absolute killer. Condit may have the best chin in the welterweight division, arguably better than Nick Diaz, Matt Brown and Martin Kampmann. The guy can take a punch. He took some of Hendricks’ best shots and while he didn’t necessarily just walk right through them, he wasn’t incapacitated. Compare that to the KO victims on Hendricks’ list and it’s an impressive feat.
Kampmann, on the other hand, is much more of a reaction kind of fighter. He is also very smart, but he tends to take what the opponent gives him and makes something happen with that. His fights against Ellenberger and Thiago Alves are evidence of that. With that being said, Kampmann is very underrated and doesn’t get the appreciation or recognition that he deserves. Remember, his match against Hendricks was likely going to determine the next title challenger. He just happened to get caught early.
Condit is going to do what he’s best at, keep his opponent off balance with a diverse arsenal of kicks, knees, spinning backfists and the like, and find a way to connect with something that puts the other guy out. Condit is a fan favorite for a reason, the guy puts on spectacular fights and loves to stand up with fighters. And when he does that, he usually gets the better of his opponents.
Now Kampmann is just as dangerous with his strikes and if the Alves and Ellenberger fights taught us anything, it’s that Kampmann is even more dangerous when the fight gets a little wild and he looks to be hurt. Kampmann reminds me (crossing over in sports here) of basketball plays where a player is running full speed and gets fouled or hit hard, but somehow uses that momentum to finish the play in highlight reel fashion. Kampmann is no slouch when it comes to striking, but if this fight is strictly fought in the stand-up, it’s likely to go Condit’s way. So look for “The Hitman” to mix things up a little and shoot for a takedown to halt some of Condit’s momentum and rhythm. If Condit starts to find his range and land combinations, Kampmann will have to engage in clinches and get this thing to the ground. If Condit has one weakness, it’s his takedown defense, and that’s the big question mark here.
Key to Victory: Can Condit defend the takedown?
Both GSP and Johny Hendricks, the last two guys to beat him and possibly the only two welterweights slightly better than him, defeated Condit with their wrestling and ground games. Condit was actually able to get back to his feet every time Hendricks took him down, but GSP’s top control is other-worldly and it stifled Condit for five rounds. Either way, every time Hendricks or GSP took him down, it brought Condit’s stand-up game and rhythm to a screeching halt. Condit is going to get into a rhythm against Kampmann and he’s going to land some strikes, but the key is if Kampmann commits for a takedown, will Condit be able to stay on his feet and break whatever clinch or hold Kampmann has? If so, then we’ll probably be looking at a victory for the NBK.
Why It Matters – You have two of the toughest and most exciting fighters in not only the welterweight division, but all of MMA, meeting again four years after their first fight. They’ve both grown tremendously since then and much more is at stake this time around, as both guys are at the top of the welterweight division, despite their recent losses.
With GSP getting older and possibly thinking about superfights, along with the lack of legitimate welterweight contenders, it’s not farfetched to say one of these guys could be fighting for the welterweight belt in the near future. There are a handful of guys in the mix and the winner of this fight will remain in that picture, while the loser will have a longer road to get back into contention.
Condit does not want to lose three in a row. That goes without saying.
Kampmann also just lost and wants to avoid a two-fight skid.
Two guys coming off of losses, both elite fighters at the top of their weight class with the ability to beat anyone on a given night. Even without the potential losing streaks and title ramifications, this one is going to be a barnburner.
Prediction – Condit