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UFC on Versus 3 Main Event Breakdown: Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann

Just a few months ago, Martin Kampmann fought in arguably the most important match of his career. The UFC had just signed reigning Strikeforce middleweight champ Jake Shields, who was in the midst of a 14-fight win streak, and given him to Kampmann. Shields had already been earmarked for a UFC welterweight title shot, and all he'd have to do is win a single fight.

The Danish fighter nearly foiled the plan. Kampmann frustrated Shields, out-landed him over the three rounds, managed a knockdown, and tried three submissions to Shields' zero, but when the final decision came, it went in Shields' favor.

To the UFC's credit, they didn't penalize Kampmann (17-4) for the controversial loss, giving him another high-profile fight, this time against Diego Sanchez at UFC on Versus 3.

Despite the fact that his nickname, "The Hitman," suggests he's a brawler, Kampmann is remarkably well-rounded. In fact, according to Compustrike, over his last nine fights, he's spent almost the same amount of time standing and on the ground (34:03 standing, 32:55 on the ground).

His wrestling and ground game have become massively underrated. Kampmann has successfully taken down his opponent in seven of his last 11 attempts, and has three of his last six wins via submission.

All this goes to show that Kampmann is very comfortable on the ground, the place that Sanchez likely wants to put him.

Sanchez (22-4) has been in the UFC for over five years now, and when he came on the scene, he primarily used his wrestling to take the fight to the mat, where he was among the most aggressive top-control fighters in the sport, always looking for a finish whether throughout submission or stoppage.

Over the last few years though, Sanchez strayed a bit from the formula that made him successful, focusing more on kickboxing. He now blames that change for the troubles that forced him into a two-fight losing streak in 2010. Now back with Team Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Sanchez promises a return to his wrestling-based style.

Can he take Kampmann down though?

Despite his reputation as a wrestler, Sanchez is just 21-77 in takedown tries over his 15 UFC fights, a 27 percent success rate. Of course, that number is seriously skewed by his disastrous 0-for-19 effort against BJ Penn at UFC 107, but even taking out that match, he'd be at just 36 percent.

For all his success as an offensive wrestler, Kampmann, has at times had issues with takedown defense. His nine UFC opponents successfully took him down on 10 of 15 tries (67 percent). When he faced Shields, however, he showed that he was capable of slowing down a hellbent wrestler. This portion of the match could well decide the winner.

The pair are very even elsewhere. Among the most surprising numbers is the fact that Sanchez's opponents land standing strikes at a higher percentage than he does. Even though it's relatively close (opponents out-land him 40 percent to 36.6 percent), that's very rare for a successful fighter, and has to raise a red flag anytime he faces a good striker.

Kampmann is indeed a good striker. He lands 45.1 percent of his standing strikes, a significantly higher rate than Sanchez.

Sanchez often makes up the disparity with relentless activity. He throws an average of 44 strikes per round, nine more than Kampmann. One place Sanchez really shines is on top. He averages 37 ground strikes per fight, landing 24. Conversely, he hasn't flashed finishing power, ending only two of his last 10 fights via knockout.

All of that said, this is essentially a toss-up fight. It's quite possible that re-tooling his game by returning to Team Greg Jackson could reinvigorate Sanchez's career, and even when his game regressed, he was still a fight-to-the-final-horn kind of competitor. Kampmann won't have an easy time of it here. He's got to let his hands go, otherwise Sanchez's volume might overwhelm his accuracy in the eyes of the judges.

This fight is likely to go the distance, and when it comes to a decision, there is a danger that judges will favor Sanchez's activity above all. Still, I can't shake the belief that Kampmann has simply been better and more consistent than Sanchez over the last two years. Kampmann keeps the fight standing and lands enough to win a very close decision.