Rick Story's stock skyrocketed after the semi-surprising upset over Thiago Alves. Not to take anything away from Story but I thought Alves' Thai-bred footwork was his undoing against Story's methodical corner and contain strategy. Regardless, the triumph was ephemeral as Charlie Brenneman, who had only twenty-four hours to prepare, would steal his thunder with an arresting decision.
This loss snapped the solid six-fight streak Story had pieced together since dropping a decision to John Hathaway in his Octagon debut at UFC 99 in 2009. It's worth mentioning that Story notched two respectable wins before his UFC stint over Jake Ellenberger and Ryan Healy, both by decision, and Johny Hendricks was one of the six victims amidst the surge.
After veteran middleweight Nate Marquardt knocked him down to welterweight, Danish kickboxer Martin Kampmann scored his first UFC win by TKO over Alexandre Barros, then welcomed WEC champion and current top contender Carlos Condit to the UFC, eking out an action packed split decision.
Kampmann would crumble under UK mauler Paul Daley wrath next, but rebound with a distinctly enhanced grappling assault against Jacob Volkmann (guillotine choke) and Brazilian slugger Paulo Thiago (decision). Though suffering consecutive losses in his last two, the decisions rendered for Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez were among the more heatedly debated judging scores at the time and Kampmann still looked sharp in defeat.
Gifs and analysis in the full entry.
Story's cage generalship was what landed him his biggest career win over Alves.
Wielding a judicious selection of straight punches, Story was cool and composed in steering Alves into the corners of the cage, forcing the Thai technician to brawl with his back on the fence to water down the Brazilian's fiery striking.
Story played a cunning strike-or-shoot chess game by faking level drops to set up his strikes and vice versa. Alves was flustered and desperately reacting to Story's offensive ploys.
When Story unrolled the same intentions against Brenneman, "The Spaniard" refused to be closeted by the cage walls and exploded forward when the risk arose.
Kampmann, however, doesn't have the offensive wrestling chops to put Story on his back and must rely on his stellar takedown defense, footwork and striking to evade the vulnerable position.
Story's forward pressure is also received favorably by the judges for the Delphic element of control.
Now facing another overbearing wrestler, Martin Kampmann's takedown defense will be crucial to his success.
This strategy should be all warmed up after tackling Sanchez and Shields in his last two and I expect his clinch fundamentals to be even more focused after the consecutive losses. Controversial or not, "The Hitman" has his back against the wall with the potential of suffering three straight defeats.
His gameplan has been spot on -- now he just needs better execution for the desired results.
These last two animations capture exactly what he has to replicate: first, an adherence to straight and crisp bursts of on-balance, controlled punches; next, keeping underhooks in the clinch and circling off the fence, all while staying light on his toes to sprawl.
Kampmann is more of a volume puncher, which might not be a bad thing here. Story will be poised to shoot double legs anytime his feet are planted and being a precision, high-quantity and low risk striker should assist his "stick and move" strategy.
Kampmann reminds me of Stefan Struve in that he's mostly billed as a kickboxing specialist, yet it seems that his smooth submission game might be his strongest attribute. After Drew McFedries bounced a ridiculous amount of leather off his unbreakable chin, Kampmann eventually implemented his slippery grappling to secure an arm-triangle (right).
Against Volkmann and Thiago, he was clever in pursuing Brabo and guillotine chokes after his sprawl, though Story has been adamant about protecting his neck during takedowns.
His six career sub wins near the seven he's taken with strikes, leaving really only the wrestling department and ability to bully as Story's clear advantages. Anytime the threat of takedowns are this prevalent, it does open more opportunities for the grappler to shift gears and unload big punches; a tactic that Story has excelled with.
After dropping to welterweight, Kampmann's been on the fringe of the elite contenders and I imagine he'll be highly motivated to eschew being thrice smothered for a control-based defeat.
My Prediction: Martin Kampmann by decision
Alves x Story gif via Grappo
Kampmann x McFedries gif via MMA-Core.com
All others via Zombie Prophet of IronForgesIron.com