Fighters love their job, but not all fighters love all aspects of it. Ask 10 mixed martial artists what their least favorite aspect of prizefighting is, and probably seven or eight will say, "Cutting weight." Martin Kampmann is an anomaly in this respect, then, and it's all the more surprising considering he started his career as a middleweight. As he gets set to take on Brazilian Paulo Thiago at UFC 115 on June 12, "the Hitman" shares his thoughts on cutting weight, fighting Thiago and doing what he loves.
"The weight cut's been really good," Kampmann told Fiveknuckles.com. "The only cut I did that I didn't like was the first test cut (before I had a fight at welterweight), but for all my fights, the cuts have been so easy. I could make it in my sleep."
So why did the 28-year-old from Aarhus, Denmark have his first 15 fights at middleweight?
"In Europe, back when I started fighting, people fought at the weight they walked at," he explained. "I was winning all my fights at 185, feeling good, and I wanted to see how far I could take it. So I figured, once I take a loss I'll go to 170. I lost to Nate Marquardt and decided to try 170."
Kampmann won his next two fights at welterweight, and after a loss to Paul Daley at UFC 103, he got back in the win column with a first-round submission over Jacob Volkmann at UFC 108. Kampmann's next challenge comes from the dangerous Thiago, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt with proven knockout power.
"(Thiago) is dangerous both on the ground and standing up," said Kampmann. "But I feel real confident in my skills. I've been working a lot on the ground, and to keep it standing as well. I train jiu jitsu with some really good black belts and I do well, so I feel confident that I can hang with him on the ground...I feel confident in my boxing. He swings really hard. Wide, but hard. I think he leaves himself open, but he swings so hard and wide that if he connects, he's got the ability to hurt you. We both have the ability to go to the ground or to keep it standing."
Both Kampmann and Thiago have a common opponent in Volkmann. Volkmann took Thiago to a decision, but Kampmann was able to outbox him and set up a guillotine with punishing ground-and-pound inside the first round. But Kampmann won't use the common opponent as a benchmark on how he stacks up with Thiago, preferring instead to trust in his skills and strategy.
"(Thiago) made the mistake of turning (the Volkmann fight) into a grappling match," he said. "That played into Volkmann's strength. I was able to stand with him and I dropped him twice. But it doesn't matter. It's a different fight. What happened in the Volkmann fight doesn't matter."
Kampmann has racked up a solid 16-3 record since his pro debut in 2003. He's 7-2 in the UFC, losing only to middleweight title challenger Nate Marquardt, and Paul Daley, who was in the hunt for a welterweight title shot.
"I'm very unhappy with my fight with Daley," said Kampmann. "I think I could have beaten him...I do think it was stopped early, but I'm most disappointed in myself that I put the referee in the position where he had to make that choice. I got dragged into trading punches with Daley and...