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Call him ‘semi-retired,’ Martin Kampmann isn’t ready to hang up his gloves just yet

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

It's been 14 months since Martin Kampmann succumbed to a volley of fourth-round strikes in his rematch against Carlos Condit. And while the perennial welterweight contender admits that, at least in the immediate future, he has no plans to return to action, Kampmann also isn't ready to make his exit from professional competition officially known, at least not yet.

"I'm still signed with the UFC, but I'm on an indefinite hiatus. I'm semi-retired, you might say," Kampmann explained on Tuesday's episode of The MMA Hour.

"I'm taking a break and focusing on coaching, stuff like that. I'm still signed with the UFC, I still have a contract with the UFC, but I just don't have any fights lined up and I don't plan on having any fights lined up in the future, either. I'm focusing on coaching right now. I still love fighting so I'll never say never, but I can't see myself fighting anytime in the future right now."

For Kampmann, a grizzled 32-year-old with over a decade of experience and more than a few dogfights under his belt, the decision to walk away was twofold. One, the creeping specter of age plus back-to-back losses forced Kampmann to consider that, well, this whole fighting thing probably isn't going to last forever, so the farther off a title run looks, the better it might be to plan for the next chapter of life.

But the second, and perhaps most important reason, came down to the very nature of the sport itself. Mixed martial arts is inherently a violent game, one in which concussions and success often go hand in hand, whether from repeated gym wars or under the hot lights of fight night. Ten-plus years of blows to the head ultimately take its toll on an athlete, and Kampmann isn't particularly interested in seeing how much farther he can push it.

"It's kind of put things into perspective that I can't be fighting forever and I've got to watch my health. I've got kids and I want to be there for my kids," Kampmann said.

"I've had my share of concussions and it's not always fun. I took some fights where I shouldn't have taken them, but I pushed through it and that was a mistake in retrospect. Can't change that now, but now I'm trying to watch out for my health better than I've done in the past."

As a fighter still relatively young compared to his contemporaries, Kampmann admits that he continues to get that itch from time to time -- that gnawing feeling in the back of his mind, coaxing him to come back for one or two more tries. He ignores it as best he can, and that's made easier in part because of his new position as head coach of the pro team at Urijah Faber's Team Alpha Male.

"I saw they were looking for a coach, and I reached out to them, to Urijah," Kampmann said. "I've been out here coaching him for his last fight camp, and all the guys really enjoyed having me out here. I've had a lot of positive feedback on the stuff that I've been showing, on the practices I've been running. And obviously it was also a tryout period for me, because I got to see how I like Sacramento and how my family likes Sacramento."

The trial period worked out well enough that Kampmann recently relocated both he and his family out to Sacramento full-time, replacing the duties at Team Alpha Male previously held by decorated head coach Duane "Bang" Ludwig.

The situation at the gym remains fluid for the moment, Kampmann says. Ludwig continues to work alongside UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw and featherweight title challenger Chad Mendes, while Kampmann is simply focusing on helping the team win in any way he can.

"I have no idea what the plan is there. Right now I've been running practices out here and helping guys the best I can," Kampmann said. "I'll be cornering Urijah for his next fight. T.J. right now is not even training, he's injured, so I haven't done any work with him at all, whatsoever. So we'll see.

"Bang's done a great job obviously, with the striking and helping guys improve on their striking game. I came in here in the middle of Chad's training camp, so I don't think that's a good time to change anything up. I know he's had great success with Bang. I've just been coming in and running the pro practice. I'm still getting acquainted with a lot of the guys since I just moved out here, but I've been of course giving them my take on what I think they can improve on and what I think they should do for their fights.

"I just go in there and coach," Kampmann added. "I try not to focus too much on (anything else). I've been going in there coaching and I think what I do speaks for itself, and I've had very positive feedback from all the guys. They really enjoyed the practices and the stuff I've been doing with them. I take that as a compliment and that's the reason I'm still here, you know?"

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