Tonight, the UFC returns to the land down under for a free event with “UFC on FX 2: Alves vs. Kampmann” live from the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia. BlackSportsOnline.com MMA Insider Alex Donno has a breakdown of the even from Down Under.
In Alves vs. Kampmann, fans will see an entertaining welterweight bout between two fighters who love to keep the action standing and put on a good show for the fans. Alves is a former title contender. Kampmann is the only man to hand current interim champion Carlos Condit a loss inside the UFC’s Octagon. While it’s unlikely that the winner here would be immediately thrust into title contention, the loser would fall a couple rungs down the ladder and possibly be forever lost in the undertow of the deep welterweight division. If either man hopes for a shot at UFC gold in the near future, a win in Sydney will go a long way.
In the striking range, Alves and Kampmann are both very dangerous. Alves loves to be the bully, constantly moving forward to put the pressure on his opponent. His leg kicks are brutal (picture a 170lb Jose Aldo) and his punch combinations are crisp. The Fortaleza, Brazil native has been practicing Muay Thai since he was 14, and it shows. And he typically has size on his side. In welterweight terms, he’s gigantic, cutting down to 170 from nearly 200lbs. It’s a weight cut that he used to commonly struggle with. But since his loss to Jon Fitch in August of 2010, he’s been working with famed MMA nutritionist Mike Dolce (of The Dolce Diet) and hasn’t had any trouble since. For this bout with Kampmann, Alves officially weighed in at 170.5 (a half pound under the official 171 limit).
His opponent, Martin Kampmann, also tipped the scales at 170.5. Kampmann, born in Denmark, but training out of Las Vegas, is the yin to Alves’ yang in the striking range. While Alves looks at his best when he’s attacking and moving forward, Kampmann tends to find great success moving backwards, throwing counter strikes. Such a skill could make things uncomfortable for Thiago as he enjoys being the aggressor. Even so, allowing Alves to move forward probably isn’t the smartest strategy for Kampmann to employ. First of all, Alves’s power is so dangerous that a single punch or knee could end Kampmann’s night at any given time. Allowing him to press forward would play into his power. And secondly, moving backwards rarely ever lends itself to a favorable ruling from the judges. Let’s say Kampmann lands more strikes than Alves but does so while backing up. If the fight goes to the scorecards, the judges may be inclined to favor the more aggressive fighter, regardless of what the stats (which judges don’t have access to) may tell you. Luckily for Kampmann, his high level striking should allow him to move forward with confidence. Alves doesn’t respond well to pressure (as we saw in his loss to Rick Story). Kampmann works very well from the clinch. If he can force tie ups and score points with knees and dirty boxing, he could throw Alves off his game quickly. Alves thrives when he can control the timing and distance. As good as Kampmann may be as a pinpoint accurate striker, he would likely get picked apart by Alves at range. That’s why it’s paramount for Kampmann to put the pressure on Alves inside. If the fight goes to the ground, Kampmann would have the edge there on paper. His Jiu Jitsu is underrated and he can threaten with submissions. Alves’ ground game is defined by his ability to stand back up quickly. He typically doesn’t waste time attempting submissions from his back. If you take Alves down, he will use his superior leg and upper body strength to get back to his feet.
On the undercard, the UFC makes history by introducing a flyweight division. The 125 pounders debut on FX with the first round of a four-man, championship tournament. The four-main field includes two existing 125ers making their UFC debut in Ian McCall and Yasuhiro Urushitani, along with a pair of former UFC bantamweights dropping down to flyweight for the first time: Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson. The first round match ups will be Benavidez vs. Urushitani and Johnson vs. McCall. It’s clear that the bracket was designed this way in order to create the possibility of Benavidez and Johnson (the more well-known names to UFC fans) meeting one another in the tournament final, which will be fought at a later date.
Yasuhiro Urushitani, the Shooto flyweight champion, is known for his skilled counter striking and overall durability. He’s only been finished once in pro MMA competition, and has finished opponents in three of his past five victories. However, against tournament favorite Joe Benavidez, he’ll meet his toughest test to date. Benavidez will match or even exceed his quickness, and he employs a relentless wrestling style that can wear out most any opponent. Benavidez usually likes to stand and trade early, and once he’s softened you up with his hands and kicks, he starts to mix in his takedowns. Think of him as a miniature Urijah Faber. In fact, he and Faber are close friends and training partners. Benavidez works a frenetic pace and thrives when he creates scrambles. As is the case in any flyweight matchup, you can expect this fight to showcase a quick and crowd-pleasing pace.
The same can be said for the other tournament bout, when Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson meets “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall. Johnson challenged for the UFC bantamweight belt just five months ago, falling to champion Dominick Cruz. He’s always been undersized for that weight class, so flyweight should be the perfect home for him to showcase his talents. In the striking range, he darts in and out of the pocket quickly, using skilled footwork. His takedowns are equally effective. He’s capable of timing his explosive double-leg perfectly. His opponent, McCall, has shown excellent takedown defense, though. “Uncle Creepy” will have more power in the striking range than Johnson. If things stay on the feet, Johnson will have the ability to outland McCall with superior volume, but McCall will be more likely to find a finish by knockout. The Tachi Palace Fights flyweight champion also does well on the ground in scrambles, so he should be able to hold his own even if Johnson winds up on top. Much like the other tournament fight, this one should be a barnburner. Johnson will be the favorite here, but McCall seems more likely to pull off an upset than Urushitani would be against Benavidez.
The FX main card portion of the card begins at 9:00pm EST tonight with a middleweight bout between Court McGee and Constantinos Philippou. Prior to the main card, you can watch three hours of preliminary fights on Fuel TV, beginning at 6:00.