The GDP Award: Martin Kampmann

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I’ve got a proposition for you. I want to take off one of my Versace boat shoes, wrap it in barbed wire, then beat you about the face with it for a few minutes. Don’t worry, I’ll pay you for it, but it’s going to hurt, you’re going to be a mess at the end, and three months later I’m going to want you to do it all again. Do we have a deal?

If you answered yes, chances are you’re either a little bit crazy or else you’re Martin Kampmann. I guess it’s possible you could be both, but with an attitude like that, one thing you’re probably not is mired in long-term poverty. Just ask Kampmann, a man who’s willing to bleed for his cash, and whose efforts we recognize with the 2012 half-year GDP Award.

Those familiar with past winners of this award will note that there are a couple established methods for getting noticed by the GDP Award Committee (which, of course, meets biannually in a moving limousine). One way is to take an almost unreasonable number of fights in a very short time span, as Donald Cerrone did. The other is to make the most of very few fights by convincing someone to pay you an almost unreasonable amount for each one, as Tito Ortiz did.

Kampmann didn’t take either path. He fought twice in the first half of 2012, which is neither too much or too little. According to the official reported payouts from his win over Jake Ellenberger at the TUF: Live Finale, he made $42,000 to show and another $42,000 to win, which seems like a slight undervaluation of his skills but nothing worth writing your personal lobbyist about. So then, how did Kampmann prove himself to be worthy of the GDP Award? Were GDP Award committee members sipping too much complimentary champagne on the way to this year’s lobster brunch? Probably, yes, but that’s not why.

To put it simply, Kampmann suffered. In both his fight with Ellenberger and his fight with Thiago Alves in March, he made things as hard as possible on himself. His path to victory began with something that closely resembled defeat. He got beat up, sliced open, and tenderized like a fine piece of veal. He poured his blood out like it was cheap cognac. He ended both fights looking like he’d been run over by a top-of-the-line riding lawnmower, but he also ended them with his hand raised and bonus cash in his pocket. First it was a $50,000 Submission of the Night award for his guillotine of Alves, and then it was $40,000 for Knockout of the Night against Ellenberger. Put it together, and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent watch in exchange for the reorganization of your facial features.

Here’s where you’re saying to yourself: ‘Wait a tic, you immaculately-dressed, disarmingly-handsome international playboy. Last year, when Ortiz got this award, he pocketed $4,525.86 per second of cage time. Now you’re telling me that Kampmann gets it for getting beaten to a pulp for far less money?’

And yes, that is exactly what I’m saying. Because, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re still in a recession. It's rough out there. People are struggling. Not the members of the GDP Award committee, of course. We’re all Armani-wearing elitists, so we’re doing just fine. But in an economy like this one, even we can recognize the value of a man willing to roll up his sleeves and open up his face in order to get paid. We appreciate a fighter like Kampmann, who will gladly give you a quarter-million bucks worth of pain and suffering for an $84,000 payout. He is a fighter for our time, a fighter willing to endure the worst to get to something slightly better.

If only there were more Kampmanns out there, well, no, the economy would probably still be screwed, but at least there would be far less complaining about it, which is what really bothers the members of this committee. Not to mention, he's an excellent example for us all. If he can wade through buckets of his own blood to get that paper, maybe it’s not so unthinkable after all for committee members to begin opening the doors to their own Town Cars.

Honorable Mention: Lavar Johnson

Three fights in 2012, including two in the month of May alone. He may have ended that streak on a sour note, losing via submission to Stefan Struve, but we can't deny the work ethic.

Dishonorable Mention: Bob Sapp

There are some things even the members of this committee won't do for money. Not many, mind you, but some.

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