In the UFC on Versus 3 main event, former UFC lightweight contender Diego Sanchez squares off against well-rounded Xtreme Couture fighter Martin Kampmann in an important welterweight showdown that could put the victor in line for a shot at contention. Sanchez enters the contest with a 1-1 record in his recent stint within the confines of the division, losing in his return to the weight class at UFC 114 to John Hathaway via decision. He rebounded impressively at UFC 121 with a Fight of the Night performance against Paulo Thiago, edging him out on the scorecards.
Kampmann is coming off a loss to newly-crowned #1 contender Jake Shields at UFC 121. The bout ended in a split decision leaning toward Shields, but there were plenty of cases made that Kampmann had won the bout. Despite the loss, Kampmann proved that he is one of the elite fighters in the division, giving Shields all he could handle for three rounds and nearly pulling off the win. Like Sanchez, Kampmann also holds a recent win over Paulo Thiago, who some would say was handled more definitively by Kampmann than Sanchez.
Sanchez's wrestling ability, pace, and level of conditioning are major advantages for him against Kampmann. Kampmann has shown the ability to neutralize fighters who possess some of those qualities, usually succumbing to those who can consistently put him on his back and keep him there.
For Kampmann, the stand-up department is where he's most dangerous in this encounter. Many fans have been critical of his kickboxing game as it hasn't produced the results that one would expect, but there is no doubt in my mind that Kampmann was much more effective than Diego ever was against Paulo Thiago. Unfortunately, that may not be a factor if Sanchez can take down Kampmann repeatedly.
Kampmann will need to mimic John Hathaway's success at UFC 114. There is no question that Sanchez is the inferior striker in this match-up. If Kampmann can maintain his feet and work a consistent jab without putting himself too far inside for Sanchez to blast through his legs, he should be able to edge Sanchez over three rounds. The question is whether Kampmann is capable of landing consistently enough to deter Sanchez. I remain skeptical.
By all indications, this is one of the tougher fights to call so far this year. Kampmann is more proven in his submission skills and striking, but Sanchez has the skills that matter. The problem, however, is that Diego's stand-up skills have hurt him in the past, and Kampmann is becoming a much tougher man to smother on the ground. Conditioning is a concern, but I'm going to roll the dice one last time. I'll bank on Kampmann using distance and his stand-up skills to keep Sanchez at bay.