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Local fighter Martin Kampmann on the cusp of a UFC title shot

Kampmann discusses upcoming matchup with Jake Ellenberger


Associated Press

Martin Kampmann, right, punches Rick Story in the second round during a UFC 139 Mixed Martial Arts welterweight bout in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011. Kampmann won by split decision.

Local UFC welterweight Martin Kampmann was practically in between relaxing visits to the rain forest and beach when he received a phone call about his next fight.

Kampmann spent a three-week Australian vacation with his wife and 8-month-old son after an important UFC on FX 2 main event victory over Thiago Alves in Sydney last month. Accepting an upcoming bout against Jake Ellenberger at “The Ultimate Fighter Live” finale June 1 at the Palms momentarily paused the getaway.

“I didn’t really want to bother with another fight because I was in vacation mode,” Kampmann said Tuesday. “I didn’t even want to think about fighting, but it’s too good an opportunity.”

A meeting with Ellenberger (27-5 MMA, 6-1 UFC) is the kind of opportunity Kampmann (19-5 MMA, 10-4 UFC) has worked six years for in the octagon.

UFC President Dana White said Kampmann and Ellenberger would fight for high stakes in a release to announce the event, which will see tickets go on sale Friday through ticketmaster.

“Jake Ellenberger and Martin Kampmann are going to fight for the chance to earn a title shot,” White stated.

Kampmann hopes a victory over Ellenberger would spring him into a welterweight championship match with either champion Georges St. Pierre or interim champion Carlos Condit, but he’s not certain that will hold true.

No one has officially told Kampmann he’s competing for the top contender spot.

Plus, St. Pierre and Condit have to fight first. With St. Pierre coming off an ACL injury, the earliest it appears their matchup could happen would be Nov. 19 at UFC 154 in Montreal. Kampmann would have to sit out and wait nearly a year for the winner.

“I don’t like being inactive,” Kampmann said. “I like to fight. I’m going to be in the gym training when I don’t have a fight. That’s why I accepted this fight. I wanted to take some time off, but I know myself. I know I’d be in the gym anyway, so I might as well take the fight.”

Kampmann also understands how rare it is to get offered a bout with this much significance. Through 14 UFC fights, he’s only had one with as much on the line as the meeting with Ellenberger promises.

That came at UFC 121 against Jake Shields. Although the bout wasn’t officially a title eliminator, Shields went on to challenge St. Pierre after squeaking out a split-decision victory over Kampmann.

It’s a loss that gnaws at Kampmann a year and a half later. He calls his performance “terrible” and admits to daydreaming about what could have been with a victory.

He’s tried to translate the negative energy into fuel for long hours at Xtreme Couture, the gym where he trains.

“I could whoop my (butt) from a year ago,” Kampmann said. “I get better all the time. I improve all the time. My main focus is putting it all together in the octagon and fighting up to my full potential. I don’t think I’ve shown my best yet.”

Ellenberger has put together a more impressive résumé in recent years. The Omaha, Neb., native is on a six-fight winning streak.

The 27-year-old has knocked out four of those opponents, earning the reputation as one of the 170-pound division’s most powerful strikers.

“When you swing crazy like that, you leave a lot of holes,” Kampmann said of Ellenberger. “That’s holes for me to pick on and punch him. I don’t know if he’s going to try to take me down, but I feel like I can stuff his takedowns.”

Kampmann and Ellenberger have faced two common opponents while in the UFC. Kampmann edged Condit with a split-decision victory three years ago, while Ellenberger’s sole octagon loss came in a split decision to the interim champion.

Ellenberger recently got past Diego Sanchez, who earned a controversial split-decision win over Kampmann last year.

“I think I beat (Sanchez) up more than Ellenberger did if you look at his face,” Kampmann said. “I think I gave him stitches for the rest of the year.”

Kampmann was obsessed with getting a rematch against Sanchez last year. He felt it was a fight he didn’t truly lose.

But Kampmann has dropped those pleas now. He says he’s on to bigger things, like closing in on a title shot.

The Ellenberger fight excites Kampmann to the point where he doesn’t mind that it interrupted his vacation. He left Australia with plenty of memories anyway.

“There were a lot of highlights,” he said. “I like the wildlife out there. It’s so different than anywhere else in the world with kangaroos, koalas and all that stuff.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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