Before we get to the live blogging, I usually like to spend a few paragraphs breaking down the evening's important fights. Tonight, however, I'm having a particularly tough time with the welterweight showdown between Martin Kampmann and Carlos Condit, which headlines the latest UFC Fight Night for the first time from Nashville, Tenn.
Both fighters are entering their physical primes. Their styles are nearly identical. Striking is option No. 1 for both. Neither is a very good wrestler. Each has multiple submission victories, and not just your run-of-the-mill variety. You see where I'm going with this.
Here are the few distinctions I can make:
Condit is long. Against wrestlers that can be a problem, but Kampmann (14-2) isn't prone to taking single- or double-leg shots. (His takedowns have generally comes from throws in the clinch.) Pay attention to whether or not Condit uses his length to effectively punch from the outside. It hasn't been his strong suit, as Condit generally out-kicks opponents, or works them over in the clinch.
Kampmann, a 26-year-old Dane with a 5-1 record inside the UFC, is probably the cleaner striker. It'll be interesting to see how much leaving Tom Vaughn, the only trainer Condit has ever known, for a burgeoning fight factory like Arizona Combat Sports will impact his stand-up game. Trevor and Todd Lally worked with Condit -- a three-time defending WEC champion before Zuffa scrapped the division -- on tightening up his counter right hand, among other things.
Speaking with Trevor Lally Monday, he suggested the 24-year-old Condit started to pick up what they want him towards the end of training camp, and he's found more power in all his strikes. If that's the case, Condit (22-4) will surely be able to match Kampmann, a kickboxer in his native Denmark before moving to Las Vegas where he rounded out his game at Xtreme Couture.
I think in many ways this fight comes down to who owns clinch. Knees to the head and body are often Condit's most effective weapons, but Kampmann is crafty in that position, and he can find offense there as well. Kampmann can also do very well with throws, and he might be able to use Condit's size against him by getting close to the UFC newcomer's hips.
On the ground, I call it a draw. Kampmann has submitted men larger than Condit, and won't be out of place in any position. If he can pass Condit's active guard -- no easy feat considering the Natural Born Killer's long legs and tight game from his back -- then the quiet Dane has a great shot of coming out on top.
Some have pointed to Kampmann's experience in the UFC as being the deciding factor in his favor. I don't see it as meaning all that much. Condit has fought all over the world. He was brought up the right way, and he understands the pressure of big fights. Assuming Condit clicks with his new corner, this has the makings of one of the best wars of the first half of 2009. And that is my expectation.
For the record, give me Kampmann on points. But that's hardly a sure thing. (And if it sounds like I'm hedging, I am. Guess that's why this fight -- a non-title three-rounder -- intrigues me so.)