One of the main components of any MMA fight these days is the game plan or strategy. Long gone are the days in which fighters would just be able to train without much thought of what they would need to do inside the Octagon to get the win.

Head coaches are often given the task of devising a structure to their fighters’ training camps to ensure that by the time the fight comes around it won’t feel like they are implementing a predefined game plan, but it will feel like second nature.

In this feature, we will look to identify the underdog in an upcoming bout and examine what is required of that underdog in order to overcome the odds and predictions and get the all-important “W” in the win column. The point, then, is to step into the shoes of a head coach to break down the fight and provide a game plan for the underdog.

This week’s subject is Martin Kampmann, who squares off with Carlos Condit at UFC Fight Night 27 In Indianapolis on Aug. 28.

When these two fighters met many moons ago, they produced an absolute classic with great stand-up, positional grappling and heart on display from the very first moment. Whilst Kampmann won the first fight, he has seen Condit go on to become a top contender and emerge as the favorite for this rematch, four years in the making.

The Breakdown

On the feet, Kampmann has to be wary of the fact that he has been prone to getting caught by wild hooks in recent fights. Jake Ellenberger and Johny Hendricks have troubled him in this manner in recent fights. We have seen previously that Condit has the power to knock anyone out with a swinging hook, so Kampmann needs to tighten up his guard to ensure these wild, winging punches do not get through again.

Additionally, Kampmann has to be extremely wary of the outstanding leg kicks and knees that Condit is happy to throw constantly. Condit loves to throw these to keep his opponents on the back foot and also loves to throw knees whilst he is moving in to push his opponent back even further.

Given that we have seen Condit taken down recently by Hendricks and Georges St-Pierre, Kampmann may be advised to take the fight to the floor. However, those takedowns were gained with more straightforward freestyle wrestling, which isn’t Kampmann’s style. Instead, he needs to look to bring the fight in close, landing knees from the clinch to serve as a distraction, if nothing else, before taking Condit to the floor.

Once on the floor, Condit is not just going to lie there and hope it gets stood back up. Instead, he utilizes a very active ground game and will look for everything from a leg lock to a kimura to try to finish the fight or just set up to reverse the position. However, Kampmann is certainly not a stranger to the submission game either, having gained seven of his 20 victories in this way.

In the previous fight, both men were noticeably weary at the end of the bout, which was only set for three rounds. If the fight had continued, it certainly seemed like Kampmann was coming on strong and could have enjoyed greater success in the championship rounds. However, it is Condit who has been in longer fights in recent history. Cardio should not be too much of a factor in this fight, given that both are vastly experienced and have experienced long, grueling fights before.

Overall, Condit’s stand-up game is his real strength. Although Kampmann is a well-respected striker himself, he gets caught too often, which is a real concern. However, in his fight with Ellenberger, he overcame the initial onslaught and demonstrated real fighting spirit to come back in the second and end the fight with knees from the clinch.

What is for certain is that whether the fight stays on the feet or goes to the ground, both fighters constantly work to finish the fight and hurt their opponent. This fight will most likely be a close fight that largely depends on how each fighter has evolved in the intervening period since their first fight.

Despite losing to Kampmann, Condit has gone on to showcase some serious improvements in recent fights which allowed him to become one of the most recognizable fighters on the planet, even holding the interim title in St-Pierre’s absence.

The Strategy

A key point to note is that in Condit’s fight with Hendricks, Hendricks had noticed this tendency to over-commit and seemingly baited Condit on a few occasions to throw knees and kicks in close. That allowed Hendricks to duck under and get the fight to the floor. Kampmann would be well advised to follow a similar blueprint, especially given that one of the main areas of success from the previous fight was Kampmann’s ability to get the fight to the floor from the clinch position.

If Kampmann can get the fight to the ground, he needs to utilize heavy hips to ensure that Condit cannot pivot off to the side, which will open up his attacking options. Kampmann needs to ensure that he aligns his hips with Condit’s at all times, as this will nullify a good portion of Condit’s submission attempts. It will also negate a lot of power that Condit can generate with his trademark elbows from the bottom.

Overall, Kampmann needs to ensure that he methodically positions himself throughout the fight to avoid Condit’s varied attacks. His best chance is to re-visit the game plans of St-Pierre and Hendricks by waiting for Condit to over-commit with strikes. Then, Kampmann can land the takedown from the clinch, maintain composure from the top position and look to land ground-and-pound blows en route to a long, hard-fought decision victory.

Photo: Martin Kampmann (R) (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

About The Author

Greg Byron
Staff Writer
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Greg Byron started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after his brother introduced him to a local MMA fighter/coach when he was just 16 years old. Greg has trained for nearly a decade in both BJJ and MMA, competing in several grappling events within the UK. In addition to MMA, Greg possesses a law degree and works for a firm in northern part of England.