Brad’s Breakdown – Jake Ellenberger vs. Martin Kampmann
This Friday the TUF Live experiment comes to an end, and while I could really care less about the majority of this card (is Pat Schilling vs. Max Holloway seriously a fight on a UFC main card in 2012?), the main event should be a fantastic scrap between two fighters who are on the verge of contendership in the Welterweight division. Both Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann have fought multiple quality opponents at 170 with general success.
Ellenberger sits at 6-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming to current Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit in his UFC debut. He has since scored wins over Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez which have him sitting in the division’s top 5 at the moment.
Kampmann sports a 6-3 mark at Welterweight, including a victory over the aforementioned Condit. His losses have come in the form of a TKO to Paul Daley, and Decisions to Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez. Kampmann had a legitimate case for the decision to be awarded to him in both of those fights.
The last performance from each of these fighters makes this an intriguing bout, and one that is extremely difficult to forecast. Ellenberger showed much improved striking against Sanchez, landing shots moving both forwards and back. He also mixed his wrestling in nicely during the second round, scoring with some particularly hard elbows from top position. However, Ellenberger tired in the third (although not quite as badly as people remember, as he still won the first half of the round) and it allowed Sanchez to put him in some tough spots. Ellenberger’s burst at the very end of the fight – where he scrambled back to his feet and exchanged with Sanchez – showed that he did still have something left to give, which he’ll need, since Kampmann isn’t the type of fighter to fade.
Kampmann’s fight played out in reverse. He was dominated by Thiago Alves for much of their encounter despite taking the tactic of trying to wear Alves out with wrestling. Kampmann’s wrestling looked improved at times, especially offensively, but being put on his back so regularly by Alves doesn’t bode well for where this fight will take place as Ellenberger’s wrestling is very effective when he chooses to utilize it. Martin needs to take a page out of Sanchez’s book on the ground in order to tire Ellenberger out for the later rounds. At times Kampmann can be inactive from the bottom, which will allow Ellenberger to fight when he wants to and rest when he wants to. The striking is really what concerns me for Kampmann in this fight though. Alves (and a laundry list of opponents before him) have landed regularly on the Dane, as he backs straight into the fence and leaves himself open for more shots. Against Ellenberger, that’s a recipe for disaster. However, if Kampmann can stick around until the fourth or fifth round he could be able to capitalize on a mistake by a tired Ellenberger as he did against Alves.
As far as this fight goes, I see it playing out similar to each guy’s last fight. Ellenberger should be able to control the striking early, mixing in takedowns if he wants to, while keeping Kampmann fighting at his pace. If Kampmann can survive the first half of this bout, he should begin to exert his control with his striking, and potentially get Ellenberger to the ground with one of his clinch takedowns. The questions at this point become: Will Kampmann survive the early barrage? If so, will he be able to score a late submission? If he can’t finish Ellenberger, can he do enough to take the fight on the judges’ cards?
Personally, I’m not sure Kampmann can withstand the early flurries from Ellenberger. Even if he does, his tendency to not fight to his fullest potential – especially against dead tired foes, like Jake Shields – makes me question if he can really sweep rounds 3-5 with the judges. The biggest potential for a Kampmann victory resides with a late submission, but I have faith that even if Ellenberger doesn’t finish things off early (which I do expect him to), he can survive to the judges and take what will likely turn out to be a mildly contentious decision.
My pick: Jake Ellenberger, TKO, Round 2.