Hey chaps, just my official breakdown for this fight at HeadKickLegend.com. Wouldn't want to make a pick between these two, but it should be a hell of a tear up!
Please rec here so I can see how I'm doing!
At UFC on FX 2, two of the welterweight division's premier strikers will meet in a bout which many hope will be an entertaining, back and forth match up on the feet. The welterweight division has traditionally been ruled by wrestlers; and some particularly boring ones at that (if you cheered when Jon Fitch got knocked out you cannot dispute this). The problem with these consistent, powerful wrestlers is that they alienate fans, so we have seen many attempts to push exciting strikers as the next big thing at welterweight. BJ Penn's immediate title shot at Georges St. Pierre, the Paul Daley and Dan Hardy hype trains, and Nick Diaz's five year streak in which he didn't meet a single wrestler spring to mind.
Thiago Alves has also been flogged like a dead horse in attempts to put a dynamic striker at the top of the welterweight heap. He has sadly fallen short against top notch wrestlers such as the aforementioned Jon Fitch (twice), UFC welterweight demi-god Georges St. Pierre (no shame there) and Rick Story (Kampmann's last victory). Kampmann meanwhile has experienced the uniquely disappointing fate of losing razor thin decisions against big name fighters, while winning in many of the spectators' eyes - see his performance against Jake Shields and his very shady loss to Diego Sanchez. Both men have assembled one win since their last loss, but a victory over the other man might even spell title contention as the UFC tries to put together an exciting match with Carlos Condit before Georges St. Pierre returns to wreck the party.
Alves has drawn himself enormous attention through his frequent and effective use of the low kick. Whenever you watch a Thiago Alves fight you are bound to hear Mike Goldberg repeat that soundbite about how Alves "really turns the hips over to dig in with that shin bone, Joe". It gets repetitive for avid fans, but it rings true nonetheless - we hear it so much because he is able to low kick his opponent's legs to ribbons so often. Alves' go to strategy is to use his head movement and counter punching to make opponents weary, before throwing a half hearted jab - lead hook and following it with an enormous low kick into the opponent's lead thigh. Alves also enjoys throwing the right low kick off of his counter left hook. He stands square on to his opponents most of the time to ensure full power in this left hook.
While the left hook is Alves' money punch, and he has dropped many opponents with it - he rarely punches with his full weight behind his techniques. Many of his punches are what Jack Dempsey referred to in "Championship Fighting" as 'partial punches'. Rather than pushing off of the floor and turning his hips and shoulders together into the punch, Alves often times only rotates his shoulders, relying on his enormous strength and the brilliant timing of the punch to stun opponents. This is particularly true of his counter right straight, which is pretty much an arm punch but due to timing it as a perfect counter, and Alves' great strength, it often results in spectacular knockdowns.
Alves delivers a large number of his really telling blows through knee strikes - either as his opponent shoots a takedown, or in the Muay Thai Plumm (two handed neck clinch). As Kampmann is one of the taller fighters in the division, and most of his takedowns are foot sweeps from the clinch, it will be interesting to see how Alves fairs without this element of his game being so readily implementable. Alves' lack of strong technical takedown defense is unlikely to be to material in this match up, his enormous strength should be enough to allow him to keep himself upright by fighting off trips and throws with underhooks in this match.
The chief weakness that seems to be exploitable in Alves' game is to make him come forward. It seems a strange thing to say about a power punching striker who has only struggled against wrestlers, but allow me to elaborate. Alves' squared up stance puts a (probably close to literal) ton of power in his left hook, and he counters strongly from the stance with blocks and head movement, but when he is walking forward he is often not ready to slip a punch. We were given a fleeting glimpse of this in his match with Georges St. Pierre. Alves was pushing forward, squared up to St. Pierre, and attempted a right low kick with no set up just as GSP rammed a short, sloppy 1 - 2 down the pipe. By drawing Alves forward with his footwork and utilizing his stiff jab, Kampmann could significantly tire the shorter, more powerful man.
Breakdown of Martin Kampmann after the jump.
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