Bruising brawl pays off for Sanchez, Kampmann
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Before the official decision was even announced in the classic slugfest between Diego Sanchez and Martin Kampmann Thursday at the KFC Yum! Center, Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White raced over to reporters at cageside and declared it Fight of the Night.
And instead of giving them a $40,000 bonus, which he gave to the Knockout of the Night and the Submission of the Night winners, White was so enthused by their brawl that he boosted their bonus to $60,000.
Then, about a half-hour after Sanchez won a taut 29-28 decision, White threw in another $100,000 for each guy. That meant that each fighter got paid his purse – which was not available immediately on Thursday – as well as two performance bonuses totaling $160,000 apiece. In addition, Sanchez was paid a contractually obligated win bonus.
The crowd of 8,319 paid a gate of $471,450 to see the fight and a nearly giddy White, who could barely contain his glee, gave nearly all of it to Sanchez and Kampmann.
“I don’t forget fights like that,” White told Yahoo! Sports. “That was an unbelievable fight. That was the kind of fight you saw back in the 1980s in boxing, a classic war. Diego Sanchez is one of the toughest [expletives] I’ve ever seen, man. It was a dogfight. They both gave every ounce of what they had. Kampmann got a loss on his record, but he didn’t lose that fight. There are no losers when you’re in a fight like that.”
Sanchez was trying to get back on the right track after a rough stretch in his life, both in and out of the ring. Kampmann is the more technical standup fighter and was picking Sanchez apart early with classic strikes.
But Sanchez is nothing if not dogged and he never quit stalking Kampmann or firing punches. He wobbled Kampmann twice in the second round and then outslugged him in a sensational back-and-forth third.
It wasn’t exactly the kind of fight plan that would suit Sanchez – a wrestler who would have likely been better off getting it to the ground – but since it was the only way he was going to win, Sanchez was up for the challenge.
One thing about Sanchez, win or lose: He’s never run from a fight and he wasn’t about to start on Thursday.
“When it all comes down to it, I threw the game plan out the window and made it a street fight and that’s what I did, honestly,” said Sanchez, who was taken to a local hospital after the bout for precautionary reasons and didn’t attend the post-fight news conference.
Their mothers would have had difficulty recognizing them when the brutal battle had ended. Sanchez had a gnarly contusion below his left eye and his face was a bright red mask. Kampmann had a cut above his eye and was bleeding from the nose and mouth. He also said he broke his right hand, presumably from bashing it on Sanchez’s head and face repeatedly.
Each man had enough welts on his face to last a lifetime. Sanchez put plenty of them on Kampmann’s face by finally landing his right hook home in the second half of the bout. He wasn’t able to connect with it early, as Kampmann was boxing expertly and repeatedly catching him with the one-two, but Sanchez willed himself to get the right hook home and he finally began to do it.
“I showed them once again that I have a lot of heart and that I’m going to drop my [expletive] in there,” Sanchez said. “I’m going to give the fans what they want to see. That’s the bottom line. That was my 20th fight here in the UFC Octagon and what better way to showcase my 20th fight than with a good war? I got the ‘W’ and that’s what matters.
“What was going through my head the whole fight was, ‘It’s going to land. It’s going to land.’ I was planning on landing that right hook and dropping him. I was so, ‘It’s going to land. It’s going to land.’ I kept that mindset. ‘It’s going to land. It’s going to land.’ ”
Sanchez’s face was evidence that he wasn’t the only one landing. Kampmann dumped him in the first round with a right and made Sanchez wince later with a knee to the face. All the while, Sanchez came and came and kept firing punches.
When Kampmann would stuff his takedown attempts, Sanchez would respond by flailing away with four-, five- and even six-punch flurries.
“Diego just found a way to win,” White said. “The kid never stops. He gives you every ounce of what he has when he’s in there and that’s why so many people love him.”
The fight was such a classic that it overshadowed a brilliant performance by middleweight Mark Munoz, who knocked out C.B. Dollaway in 54 seconds. Munoz, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine,” cracked Dollaway with a big overhand right.
The punch put Dollaway flat on his back. Munoz landed two huge hammer fists on the prone Dollaway before referee Mario Yamasaki stopped it. Yamasaki said Dollaway was out and that the final hammer fist actually woke him back up.
Dollaway briefly complained about the stoppage, and the crowd booed it, but it was clearly the proper call.
“I know I have power,” said Munoz, a collegiate wrestling star. “I have power in my hands. When I touch you, you feel it. He was engaging and disengaging. I’ve been working on going in and out – more in than out, because I’ve got stubby arms – so I saw him come in and I threw the overhand right over the jab. It landed and I felt it. … I actually felt it through my arms and down my leg. That was kind of weird. I turned into it and I felt it.”
Munoz is now 10-2 and has won five of his last six, with the only loss in that sequence being a split decision to Yushin Okami. He was a one-dimensional fighter without much of a standup game when he signed with the now-defunct World Extreme Cagefighting two years ago, but he’s quickly becoming a threat on his feet.
“I have a lot of respect for C.B. and I think he’s a well-rounded, tough guy, but look what Munoz did to him,” White said. “This kid is really coming. He’s extremely impressive.”
Impressive is only one of about 1,000 adjectives that will be used to describe Thursday’s main event too. It was a breathtaking battle between two men who never gave an inch.
White said he’s not sure if he’ll do a rematch, but he is sure of one thing:
“These guys are going to make a lot of money for fighting like that,” he said. “They’re going to get paid. That was an awesome, awesome fight. They’re going to get paid for that.”