Now that Diego Sanchez no longer uses it, maybe Martin Kampmann should adopt "The Nightmare" as his nickname.
It would be fitting not just in reference to what opponents must experience when the Danish striker launches one of his frighteningly precise and relentless assaults, but even more so as a description of what Kampmann himself has to be feeling at the end of a fight when he hears a judges' decision being read.
For the second time in five months, Kampmann controlled a fight but was on the wrong end of a decision, as a busted-up-beyond-recognition Sanchez was awarded a puzzling unanimous decision in the main event of the UFC on Versus 3 event Thursday night in Louisville, Ky.
For 15 minutes Kampmann (17-5), who was coming off a debatable decision loss to Jake Shields in October, peppered Sanchez (25-4) with punches, bloodying him above and below both eyes, busting his lips and mouth, and puffing the left side of Diego's face to the point where the eye was closed behind a purplish bruising. That's not always an indication of who won a fight, but in this case, the assortment of nasty cuts was evidence of the abundance of leather Kampmann landed.
"I think I won all three rounds," Kampmann told broadcaster Joe Rogan in an interview in the cage afterward, eliciting loud cheers from the crowd. "I mean, look at his face."
The damage was done on Diego right from the start, owing in part to Sanchez uncharacteristically coming out without the fury he's known for, allowing Kampmann to pick him apart. Diego now prefers to call himself "The Dream," a nickname more in line with his Tony Robbins-sparked positive-thinking philosophy, but for much of the first round he looked more like The Sleepwalker. The Greg Jackson protégé mostly stayed on the outside, too far away to successfully use his wrestling but just within Kampmann's striking range. For this, Sanchez paid a price. According to CompuStrike stats, Kampmann had a 30-8 edge in strikes in the round. When Diego did try a takedown, the Dane easily stuffed the attempt every time.
The second round began as more of the same, although midway through the five minutes, Sanchez got Kampmann's attention with a few raging flurries against the cage, even wobbling him with one shot. By round's end, though, Kampmann had landed nearly twice as many strikes as Sanchez. The CompuStrike numbers for power shots were close (19-15 edge for Kampmann), but Diego still was unable to take the fight to the canvas, where he wanted it.
Sanchez finally got his takedown midway through the third round, and although Kampmann escaped from side control and got back to his feet within seconds, the short spell on the mat energized Diego. And he thinks it impressed the judges, as well. "I knew I scored points with that takedown," said Sanchez, his words sounding slurred as they emerged from swollen and bloodied lips. "I thought I won the fight by putting the pressure and controlling the end of the fight."
It's not fair that Sanchez had to speak those words over a feisty chorus of boos from the crowd. The Albuquerque-based tough guy fought his heart out, and he did put pressure on Kampmann in the third round and control the end of the fight -- at least if you define control by who's coming forward and who's retreating. But even though he cut up both sides of Kampmann's face, Diego was clearly outstruck in this bout. The final CompuStrike numbers: Kampmann more than doubled Sanchez's output overall (97-45) and had a clear edge in power strikes (50-39).
As for the third-round takedown possibly being the difference, if the judges put a check mark next to Diego's name for that, you'd think they would have marked down several next to Martin's name for stuffing all 12 takedown attempts through the first two rounds.
Clearly, Kampmann didn't get credit for takedown defense. Or for defensive boxing. "He was throwing a lot of flurries," said Martin, "but most of it wasn't landing. I feel I was landing way more of the cleaner shots."
That's not what the judges saw. Or maybe this fight didn't really happen. Maybe Kampmann never stepped into the cage but was home in bed, experiencing a nightmare as he tried to rest up for the big fight against Georges St-Pierre he earned with his big win over Shields last fall. Then again, maybe not.
In a battle of fighters with elite collegiate wrestling pedigrees, onetime Arizona State All-American C.B. Dollaway got the early takedown against Mark Munoz and deftly avoided a reversal. But that was the end of the wrestling match, as Munoz, who was a 2001 NCAA Division I champion while at Oklahoma State, promptly got back to his feet and unleashed a decidedly non-wrestling move: an overhand right followed by an uppercut that sent Dollaway (12-4) to the canvas, dazed. Munoz (10-2) then pounced with more punches before being pulled off as the TKO winner just 54 seconds into the fight.
It's a long way from the Ring of Combat to the Octagon, but Chris Weidman navigated his way skillfully and confidently. A two-time NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler out of Hofstra whose previous MMA fights had been in the Ring of Combat regional proving ground, the Long Islander seized control against veteran middleweight Alessio Sakara (19-8) in the second and third rounds to win his UFC debut. Weidman (5-0) did all this while fighting on two weeks' notice. Impressive.
Brian Bowles hadn't been in the cage in 363 days, so being patient for a few more minutes wasn't so difficult. Fighting for the first time since he lost the WEC bantamweight title to Dominick Cruz last March, Bowles (9-1) kept his distance to fend off an early storm from Damacio Page (12-6), who came out with a fury of fists and feet in this rematch of a 2008 bout. Bowles avoided the big punches but took several robust leg kicks before finally coming forward and landing an uppercut that staggered Page. When the fighters went to the mat, the ex-champ quickly locked in a guillotine choke that ended it at 3:30 -- the exact same finishing time of their first meeting, which Bowles also won by guillotine.
"Michael Bisping's in trouble right now. You know, Michael Bisping's a guy who I've liked and have had a good relationship with since The Ultimate Fighter. I'm very disappointed in the way that he conducted himself during that fight. I think that the knee was intentional. I think he did do it on purpose. I think he saw him in that position, he looked at him and threw the knee. And obviously I don't like what he did after the fight, either. So Mike and I still need to talk, and then I'll figure out what's next for Michael Bisping." --
"There's nothing wrong with having butterflies as long as you can get those butterflies to fly in formation. So I'm getting my butterflies in formation, and I feel as though I'll be totally prepared to be one of the youngest UFC light heavyweight champions of all time."