Martin Kampmann had his career going in the perfect direction when he started in the Ultimate Fighting Championship by submitting Crafton Wallace, decisioning Thales Leites and putting Drew McFedries to sleep.
He was perhaps one fight away from a title shot when he was scheduled to fight Rich Franklin back at UFC 72 in Belfast. Unfortunately, he had to pull out of that fight due to a severe knee injury and had to sit out for the next 16 months.
During that time, the middleweight division had been mostly cleaned out of sturdy contenders. Current middleweight champion Anderson Silva had decimated Nate Marquardt, Rich Franklin for the second time, and Dan Henderson.
Kampmann returned to action against Jorge Rivera at UFC 85. The Denmark native defeated the tough veteran by submission in the very first round. Now picking up where he left off, he will have his chance to climb back up the middleweight ladder, taking on the No. 8 middleweight in the world, Marquardt, on Sept. 6 at UFC 88 in Atlanta.
"I'm very excited," said Kampmann about his upcoming fight. "I'm training hard and I can't wait to get in there."
Marquardt is a tough fighter who has fought some of the best in the business and holds victories over Jeremy Horn and Dean Lister. He is a talented hybrid mixed martial artist and will be Kampmann's largest test to date.
"I think he's a great opponent," commented Kampmann. "He's probably the toughest guy I've fought this far. His biggest strength is he's so well rounded. He's good at everything. He's got wrestling. He's got stand up. He's got ground. There's not really a weak spot I can pick. I'm just trying to fight the fight wherever it goes. It's a competitive fight."
Since Marquardt will be Kampmann's toughest test, many would think that he would train harder for this fight than any other fight before. However, the Danish fighter believes that every opponent should be trained for equally. "I train hard for every fight. It doesn't matter who it is. I train hard."
Fighting an experienced opponent like Marquardt can prove to be a tough test for any fighter. Therefore, being in great shape is always a must when you fight elite level competition. Kampmann knows this and isn't expecting a quick finish. After all, Marquardt has only been finished three times in his eight losses. Even though Kampmann would like to be the fourth person to finish the Greg Jackson-trained fighter, he knows that he needs to prepare in case the fight goes the distance.
"I always look for the finish, so if that happens, that'd be great. I'm preparing for a three-round war. That's what you got to prepare for. If the fight stops early, good for me, but I'm preparing to go three full rounds."
A victory over Marquardt would definitely solidify Kampmann to the place where he was prior to his devastating knee injury. With the middleweight division wearing thin of opponents, a win over Marquardt may propel him to the forefront division and line him up with a number one contender's bout if Anderson Silva is successful in his title defense against Patrick Cote.
Regardless of the fact that Silva has demolished every fighter that has stepped in front of him since he's entered the UFC, Kampmann thinks that the reigning middleweight king can be defeated and ultimately, he wants a shot at the gold. "Everybody can be beat, I think," he explained. "Anderson Silva can be beat too. Of course, he's a real tough guy. He's a straight up bad ass. But he can be beat too on any given day. I would love to get that opportunity.
"First I have to fight Marquardt and work my way up, but yeah, eventually I'd love to get a title shot."