While there already appears to be a logjam at the top of the welterweight division, this week’s The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale could add yet another log to the pile.

UFC champion Georges St-Pierre has been out of action for over a year now and isn’t expected to return until late Fall or Winter. The UFC set up an interim title fight between two top contenders, Nick Diaz and Carlos Condit.  Immediately following the fight, Diaz retired and has subsequently been suspended, and interim champion Condit has announced that he will not defend the title, choosing instead to sit on the sidelines until St-Pierre returns. Earlier this month, Johny Hendricks defeated Josh Koscheck to earn a title shot as well.  There are rumblings that he will also sit on the sidelines waiting for his shot.

That brings us to this weekend, where top-five welterweight Jake Ellenberger squares off with top-10 opponent Martin Kampmann.  The winner clearly has a claim to a title opportunity.  Ellenberger is on a six-fight winning streak that most recently includes victories over highly-regarded fighters Jake Shields and Diego Sanchez.  In fact, Ellenberger is only a controversial split decision loss to current interim champ Condit away from being undefeated in the UFC.

For his part, Kampmann has been knocking on the door to a title shot over the last couple of years.  First, he was scheduled to face Rich Franklin at middleweight in Ireland in a fight that would have given him a shot at the middleweight title, but he was forced out of the fight via injury.  Then he was scheduled to face Mike Swick in a No. 1 contender’s match, but Swick had to pull out with injury, so Kampmann faced and lost to Paul Daley.  Then finally, in 2010, Kampmann had a split decision loss to Jake Shields in a No. 1 contender’s match.  Is this finally the right time for Kampmann to possibly earn that elusive title shot?

Let’s take a deeper look at the fight. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills match-up against one another.

Striking: Ellenberger – 8, Kampmann – 6

Kampmann (R) mixes kicks into his striking game (Heavy MMA)

Kampmann started out his career being thought of as a striker as he compiled six knockouts in his first 10 fights.  However, since then he has only recorded one knockout in his next 14 contests.  He has shown flashes of solid technique with good combinations coupled with great striking defense.  Kampmann smoothly mixes kicks with his strikes, which leads to a diverse style of striking.

Ellenberger also has solid technique, although he will not mix in as many kicks as Kampmann.  However, Ellenberger possesses one thing Kampmann does not: one-punch knockout power.  He has accumulated 17 knockout victories in his career with 10 of those coming in the first round.  His power gives him the advantage in striking.

The Clinch: Ellenberger – 6, Kampmann – 7

In the clinch, both men are effective.  Ellenberger will usually look to land solid uppercuts or the occasional knee.  Kampmann will mix it up a little more.  Not only will he look for knees and strikes, but Kampmann will also look for opportunities to get the fight to the ground, latch on a submission, and land a kick as they break away.  This diversity gives Kampmann a slight edge in the clinch game.

Ground Game: Ellenberger – 6, Kampmann – 8

Kampmann is a UFC veteran, but he's still seeking that elusive title shot (Heavy MMA)

Kampmann’s submission game has improved throughout his career.  Although, as evidenced by some of his wild brawls, he doesn’t mind standing, he would prefer to get the fight to the ground where he can attack with his submission game.  Even standing, he has a very effective guillotine.

Ellenberger’s ground game is a little different.  While he does have submissions as a part of his arsenal, he would prefer to keep the fight standing.  You will see Ellenberger’s ground game usually in his defense.  In 32 fights, he has only been submitted one time.  While Ellenberger possesses a strong defensive ground game, Kampmann’s offensive ground game gives him the advantage in this area.

Wrestling: Ellenberger – 8, Kampmann – 5

Ellenberger possesses very good wrestling.  However, again, he primarily uses it defensively.  In the UFC, he has a 91% takedown defense.  Ellenberger will look to sprawl and brawl in his fights.  On the other hand, Kampmann is a completely average wrestler.  While he will have the advantage on the ground, he may have difficulty getting it there.  Therefore, Ellenberger has the clear advantage in wrestling.

X-Factor

Kampmann is a long-time UFC veteran.  He has shown time and time again the ability to absorb a ton of punishment and keep his wits about him to be able to turn the table.  A perfect example was his last fight against Thiago Alves.  Alves picked him apart and destroyed Kampmann for 14 minutes of the fight.  Then, with less than a minute left, as Alves came in for the attack, Kampmann was able to latch on a fight-ending guillotine.  Ellenberger will have to be aware that even when he has Kampmann in trouble, he is not out of danger.

Total: Ellenberger – 28, Kampmann –  26

Verdict: While Kampmann will be a game opponent, the edge goes to Ellenberger.  Ellenberger’s wrestling should be able to keep this fight standing, away from Kampmann’s advantage on the ground and where Ellenberger will have a power advantage to end the fight.

Photo: Jake Ellenberger (Facebook)

About The Author

Richard Wilcoxon
Staff Writer

An East Coast native, Richard Wilcoxon grew up a die hard fan of traditional team sports. In the early 1990's, he stumbled onto the sport of MMA and has been hooked ever since. He started writing about the sport on his Sporting News member blog in 2005 where he worked to spread his passion for the sport. He eventually became an official staff writer for Sporting News' "The Rumble" MMA/boxing blog before joining The MMA Corner.