After a successful run as a middleweight, Martin "The Hitman" Kampmann has since become a force in the UFC's welterweight division. He talks with MMARising.com about his title aspirations and upcoming fight with Paul Daley at UFC 103.
With victories over future title challenger Thales Leites and final WEC Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit, Kampmann's record is an impressive one. Training among the best at Xtreme Couture, he believes that the only way to the top is with a strong team supporting him. Originally set to face Mike "Quick" Swick in a #1 contender's bout in two weeks at UFC 103, Kampmann will now face British knockout artist Paul "Semtex" Daley. Though the fight may no longer determine the next title challenger, that hasn't affected Kampmann's goal of capturing UFC gold.
MMARising.com: Thank you for taking time out for this interview, Martin. To start off, when you were fighting in and around your native Denmark in the early stages of your career, did you ever imagine that you would one day be competing in front of millions of people in the UFC?
Martin Kampmann: I was hoping to, you know. It was always a dream of mine. I watched the UFC when I started training. It was always a big dream to fight in the UFC, so I am very fortunate and happy to be able to. I trained very hard and now it's my full-time profession.
MMARising.com: After you moved to the United States to live and train full-time, you joined up with the Xtreme Couture camp and now have the opportunity to train with many of the best fighters in the world on a daily basis. How much of an impact has that had on your career as you continue to develop your skills?
Martin: Oh, a lot. I think that if you want to compete with the best, you've got to train with the best, so it definitely helped my game a lot to come over here to the States to train with full-time professional people and a great gym. You're only as good as the people you train with. Here, you get good coaching in training and your sparring partners push you, so it was definitely a pretty big difference to come over here.
I had some good training partners in Denmark, too, but over there, most people have other jobs or stuff to take care of. Over here, it's a gym full of full-time professionals, so there's always going to be someone to train with, no matter what time of the day you're coming in.
MMARising.com: Now, you're next set to compete in just less than two weeks at UFC 103 and I think that this will probably be your toughest test at welterweight yet. However, your original opponent, Mike Swick, just withdrew from the fight due to injury a few days ago, so what were your thoughts when you first heard that Swick wouldn't be competing?
Martin: Oh, very bummed out about it. I've been training very hard for the fight against Swick and I was really looking forward to it. Of course it sucks when your opponent pulls out, but what can I do, you know? I'm just happy that I've still got a fight, so I'll take it from there and fight Daley instead.
MMARising.com: Yeah, and rather than cancelling the fight altogether, the UFC has arguably made it even better. As you said, you're now set to face British knockout artist Paul "Semtex" Daley and he'll be looking to make an immediate impact in the UFC at your expense. What are your thoughts on facing him and does this significantly alter your plans for the fight?
Martin: He's a very tough guy and a good striker, and he's got a lot of good moves. He's definitely not a guy to take lightly. I'm just keeping up the same training as before. Of course, he's not the same guy as Swick, but they're still similar in the sense that they're both dangerous strikers, so I'll be prepared. It's not like I have to make big changes. There will always be things that you don't expect, but we'll see about that in the fight.
MMARising.com: On the one hand, the fight might potentially be easier for you in one aspect because Daley has repeatedly talked about how much he hates the ground game in the past and doesn't always focus on it as much as other areas. Most of his losses are by submission, but at the same time, he is arguably the hardest hitter of anyone in the welterweight division and nearly all of his wins have come by knockout. Have you had a chance to study any footage of him or are you already pretty familiar with him and his style?
Martin: I'm a little bit familiar with him because he used to fight in some of the same European shows that I did back when I was a middleweight. I haven't really started studying his tapes yet, though, but I'm going to start doing that this week. The fight's still really new, so I haven't really had time to study anything on him yet, but I'll be doing that this week. I'm not worried, though. I'm sure that I'll come out with my hands raised.
MMARising.com: Yeah, it's really been a last-minute change for you and you've hardly had any time yet to adapt. Without wanting to give too much away, should fans expect you to take the fight with Daley to the ground or would you like to stand and trade with him for a while?
Martin: Well, the fight starts standing, so that's where we'll start off. I'm not scared to strike with him, though, so that's what I'm going to do. If I get an opportunity to take him down, I'll probably take it and I'll see how good his ground game is. I feel that I probably have a pretty big advantage there, so it'll be nice to see.
MMARising.com: Late last year, Daley fought one of your Xtreme Couture teammates, John Alessio, and he was actually the first man to ever stop John with strikes. Is it safe to assume that Xtreme Couture would like to get a bit of revenge for that?
Martin: Yeah, I'd like to get some payback for John, for sure.
MMARising.com: Has John given you any specific advice yet or have you really had any time to prepare for Daley at all?
Martin: I haven't really had any time to prepare for him yet, but another guy that I train with, Jay Hieron, was supposed to face Daley in Affliction. Jay had a pretty good breakdown of what Daley does and he was mimicking him pretty well, so I'll probably do some more of that stuff this week.
MMARising.com: Yeah, that really ties back to getting to train with the best, especially when they've been set to face opponents of yours in the past. Can you offer a prediction as to how you see the fight with Daley going and how it comes to an end?
Martin: I don't care if I knock him out or get a submission. I'm going to try to win either way. As long as I get the W, I'm happy. As long as it's a good fight, that's what I'm going for.
MMARising.com: The fight was originally set to be a #1 contender's bout to determine the next challenger for UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. Daley is obviously not someone that you want to overlook at all, but if you get past him and move on to face St. Pierre, what are your thoughts on that fight?
Martin: Actually, I'm not sure if this is going to be a #1 contender's fight now that Swick's pulled out because Swick has a lot more name recognition than Daley does here in the States. No disrespect to Daley at all because he's a really tough guy, but he doesn't have the same name recognition here that Swick does. I don't know if this fight has the same contendership status as the one with Swick, but that's up to the UFC. As far as I know, I shouldn't expect to get the title shot right away now.
It doesn't matter, though, because I'm going one fight at a time. It was the same thing with Swick, too. First, you have to get past him and then you can worry about the next fight. As far as the title contendership, I don't want people to say that I didn't earn it, so when I do earn it, I would love to fight GSP.
MMARising.com: I would think that you would probably still be next in line for a title shot if you got past Daley, but maybe the UFC will have another fight for you afterwards. Outside of simply continuing to find success in the UFC, what are your other goals for the upcoming year?
Martin: Well, I'd still really like to fight Swick, but like I said, I'm not looking past anybody. I've still got to beat Daley. As for my goals, I just want to keep moving up the ladder. I had a goal to become ranked in the top 10 and I was very happy to accomplish that. Now, I have a goal to become a champion as well, so I just keep striving higher and try to reach as high as I can. We'll see how far that goes. There's a lot of tough fighters out there and tough fights, but you've got to strive high.
MMARising.com: If you were able to capture UFC gold at some point in the next year, what would that mean for your career and for your life as a whole?
Martin: Oh, it'd be great. It would be like a dream come true.
MMARising.com: Do you have any final comments or thanks that you would like to pass along to fans or sponsors?
Martin: Thanks to all of the guys at Xtreme Couture for helping me train for this fight. Thanks to Hitman Fight Gear and MMA Agents. Thanks to all of the fans for their support. I appreciate it.
MMARising.com: Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. We wish you all the best for your fight at UFC 103.
Martin: No problem, man. Thank you.
MMARising.com sincerely thanks Martin for his time for this interview, and we look forward to his fight with Paul "Semtex" Daley at UFC 103 on September 19th.