Martin Kampmann: From Tennis To Kicking Ass

Mixed martial arts is not just about… mixing up the martial arts. It also mixes fighters from countries around the world where a fan from the U.S. can and will root for a Canadian fighter, even when he is squaring off against a U.S. fighter. Look no further than Georges St-Pierre.

Enter Martin Kampmann. Like St-Pierre, Kampmann competes in the welterweight division, and like St-Pierre, he is a popular fighter from another country – Denmark, to be exact.

A win over Mike Swick at UFC 103 would have likely propelled the Danish born fighter into a title shot against St-Pierre.But as fate would have it, Swick was forced to pull out of their fight and now Kampmann faces a new opponent in Paul Daley.

While a win this weekend may not guarantee Kampmann a title shot, he remains focused on the fight ahead of him, looking forward to showcasing his complete MMA skill set.

Don’t bet your hard earned kroner on this fight going to a decision. Eighty percent of Kampmann’s fights evade the judges scorecards, and he is just as adept at submitting his opponent as he is at knocking them out.

We caught up with Martin Kampmann after his evening training session and learned why he chose Thai Boxing over Karate, how he determines what movies he will watch, and what he loves about his legendary coach Randy Couture.

Heavy.com: Besides MMA, when you were younger, you wanted to be a tennis star?

Martin Kampmann: When I was young I played tennis because that is what my Dad loved. He would drag me out onto the tennis court. I got tired of it pretty fast. He got my younger brothers hooked on it though… one of them is actually pretty good at it.

Heavy.com: How did your Dad take to MMA?

Martin Kampmann: He likes it now. Not so much at first. He doesn’t like to see people get banged up too much. But he is very supportive my career which is important for me.

Heavy.com: So after leaving behind tennis you got into Karate. I read you were inspired by movies like Bloodsport with Jean-Claude Van Damme. You moved past karate though and found your groove with Thai Boxing. What did you like better about it?

Martin Kampmann: Thai Boxing looked fun so I wanted to try it out. It liked the style and it suited my personality better. I liked the contact better versus working on stance all the time.

Heavy.com: With Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida adapting Karate successfully to the octagon does it make you think more about using it?

Martin Kampmann: Machida has brought Karate back and I think that is cool. I think it works well for him. Different styles suite different fighters. I haven’t been using any Karate in my MMA training, but whatever helps win fights I will train in, so we shall see.

Heavy.com: When you aren’t busy training do you spend any of your free time watching movies?

Martin Kampmann: I do love movies. I like to watch good movies, not shitty movies. I am picky so I will check out the reviews before I go see a movie. Have you heard of rottentomaotes.com? I will go there. It doesn’t have to be an Oscar nominated movie…it just has to have a good story line.

I just saw the new Quentin Tarantino movie Inglorious Bastards and I liked that. It was pretty good. It was not very historically accurate but still a very good movie, very entertaining.

Heavy.com: Does music play a role in your training sessions? Do you like to have it on in the background?

Martin Kampmann: Definitely. Usually I will just listen to what is on the radio or what someone has going on their IPOD. I listen to a little bit of everything. I actually listen to a lot of Danish music too, to remind me of home. Some people think European music is just techno but we have all kinds of music. We have rock, rap, you name it.

Heavy.com: Throw the names of two Danish musicians at our readers.

Martin Kampmann: I like the rapper L.O.C… also an old school rock band D-A-D. They are both pretty popular over in Denmark.

Heavy.com: What makes Martin Kampmann laugh?

Martin Kampmann: My good friend and training partner Mike Pyle. He is a funny dude. Good jokes while hanging out with my buddies. I like good pranks too. I wish I could think of some good ones of the top of my head. Most of the things I probably wouldn’t tell to the public.

Heavy.com: How would you describe your style? Is fashion important to you in terms of how you look?

Martin Kampmann: I like to look good but I don’t spend too much time thinking about what to wear. I have a nice sponsorship with Hitman Fight Gear so you can check out the website to see more of the style. They hook me up with a lot of cool stuff. Day to day I am casual. I don’t bling it up. I live in Vegas so, especially in the summer, it gets too hot. I am wearing flip flops and shorts every day.

Heavy.com: Speaking of Vegas, you have one of the best training camps in MMA at Xtreme Couture. You must get pretty spoiled with all those great training partners.

Martin Kampmann: It is very nice to train here. I came over here because of my friend Mike Pyle. I train with Mike and Jay Heiron a lot since they are similar in size. Jay just won his fight in Strikeforce.

I like to train with guys of different size though. I actually train with Tyson Griffin a lot who fights at lightweight. I will punch him, he will punch me. I will try to take him down; he will try to take me down. We go all out. He is a tough little dude.

Heavy.com: Forrest Griffin is also a part of Xtreme Couture. In his recent book Got Fight, he actually talks about you and how tough you are and that you have a never quit attitude. You just keep coming back for more every time and get better in the process.

Martin Kampmann: I actually haven’t read it yet and I need to. I was told what Forrest said about me and that meant a lot for him to say those things about me. For me, Forrest is one of the hardest workers I have never met, so it is good to have someone like that to train with. I heard the book is hilarious so I want to read it for that too.

Heavy.com: How awesome is Randy Couture?

Martin Kampmann: Randy is inspirational. I can’t really say how great it is to be in the same gym as him. When that guy walks into the cage he is happy and having a good time.

He loves what he does and has such a great attitude.

It wears off on you and it inspires you to get the most out of yourself. He has taught me not to stress about things and just live in the moment.

Heavy.com: You were competitive in the Middleweight before losing to Nate Marquardt. You decided to cut weight for the first time in your career which is something you weren’t really accustomed to until you fought over in the United States correct?

Martin Kampmann: Yeah, I have always come in and fought close to the weight I was walking around at but over here everyone cuts weights. People were telling me from the beginning that I needed to cut weight and fight at welterweight.

Even some of the 155 pounders, when they were out of shape, would walk around heavier then I would. I decided to stay at 185 pounds as long as I was winning fights. My attitude was: why fix what’s not broken and if I lose we will take it form there.

Unfortunately I took that loss to Marquardt which really sucked. I hate to lose. I still think I could have done much better but sometimes you screw up and get caught. He fazed me with a good kick and did a great job of keeping pressure on me when I was hurt.

Heavy.com: In MMA it’s so fast and dynamic and a fight can turn on you in a moment.

Martin Kampmann: Very true. There are so many ways to lose in MMA.

Heavy.com: There is no shame losing to a guy like Nate Marquardt though… you saw what he did to Demian Maia at UFC 102?

Martin Kampmann: I don’t like losing, bottom line. I don’t like the fact that I lost that fight. I would love to fight him again, but not for a while.

Heavy.com: You are only 27, so you’re young in the sport. Is Middleweight ever an option down the line?

Martin Kampmann: Definitely. Anything is possible in the future. Right now I have to stay grounded and think about the guy in front of me.

Heavy.com: The guy in front of you was Mike Swick and the fight was being billed as a number one contender’s fight, but Swick pulled out and now your opponent is Paul Daley. Can the fans expect to see an explosive striking fight with both of you being so versed in Muay Thai?

Martin Kampmann: He is very good striker with knockout power, very explosive. I do not underestimate him. He will be a tough fight… he may have heavier hands then Swick. His ground game is a weak point in his game though.

He has been submitted several times in his career so I know I will have the edge if and when the fight goes to the ground. I will keep him guessing and mix it up. I want to show him all parts of my game.

Heavy.com: T(KO) or submission – do you prefer one over the other?

Martin Kampmann: I enjoy both ways of winning a fight. As long as I win the fight I am happy, no matter how it is finished. Whatever gets the job done.

Heavy.com: This fight may or may not propel you into a title fight with St-Pierre depending on how things play out. Would you still like to fight Mike Swick if the UFC wants you to?

Martin Kampmann: Of course I would like to fight Swick. He is the guy I trained for, so I have it in my mind to fight him.

Heavy.com: Speaking of St-Pierre… it is noticeable that he takes the fight to the ground a lot more then he used to and looks unstoppable. Is there anything a fighter can do to stop that?

Martin Kampmann: Just get your wrestling as sharp as you can. That is easier said then done. He has definitely turned into almost a pure wrestler where as before he used to strike more before he got knocked out by Matt Serra.

Heavy.com: Do you think St-Pierre is playing it safe?

Martin Kampmann: He fought Alves last time and his strong point is his stand up. I think St-Pierre plays to win it. If you strike with Alves there is a chance you will get knocked out. He is in there to win it so the best chance for him to do that is take his opponent down and get in his guard. The best strategy wins a fight.

Heavy.com: Lastly, tell us about being from Denmark. Do you have a lot of family and friends there…do you get to go back and visit a lot? And do you feel the differences between European and American culture?

Martin Kampmann: I love Denmark. I enjoy going back to visit my family and friends. I will be going back for Christmas. There are differences because of the culture of course but I see us as all being human beings wanting to pursue the same things for our lives.

Every place is different though which makes it cool. I love to travel and see different cultures and what makes everyone unique. I would like to go to New Zealand… that’s the next place on my list. I hear that it is so beautiful there. I would love to see the whole world.

Heavy.com: It looks like we’re winding down, Martin. I know you are busy with training so I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk with us. Good luck in your upcoming fight at UFC 103.

Martin Kampmann: Thank you. Thanks for the support.

Check out our MMA Interview Archive for tons more interviews.

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