It is one of the most pervading themes in combat sports, and that’s because it’s true.
Fighting, by its very nature, is conflict – conflict with an opponent, conflict with reality, conflict with the limits of body and mind. And always, when a fighter stays in the game too long, beyond the point when that invisible expiration date becomes a point in time when onlookers go from wanting more to wanting much, much less, that conflict every fighter faces is with time. Time ends all careers eventually, and is it usually does, time never announces itself, but instead creeps up and surprises, and a fighter is left suddenly realizing that the game is over… or realizing it not at all. When a fighter should call it quits is one of the most pervading themes in combat sports, and because it’s a question that all must inevitably face, it’s a truth that is universal.
UFC welterweight Martin Kampmann has had it rough in the past couple years. He finished Jake Ellenberger at the TUF 15 Finale on June 1, 2012, but when he met with Johny Hendricks and Carlos Condit in the cage at UFC 154 and UFC Fight Night 27 on November 17, 2012 and August 28, 2013 respectively, he was felled in clear in and convincing fashion. And we haven’t really seen him since. There have been no fight announcements concerning him, no call outs – nothing. It’s as if the top-ten 170-pound fighter has fallen off the grid.
But the Dane resurfaced this week to appear on MMAJunkie’s radio show. Where has he been? Why the hiatus?
Said Kampmann to MMAJunkie:
“I enjoy fighting, but I’ve just had my 10-year anniversary as a professional fighter,” Kampmann said. “I feel a little burned out right now. That’s why I’m taking a break. I don’t want to get in there unless I feel like it. I love training, I love fighting, but I want to have the fire again to go in. If I don’t have the fire, then I think that means I need to take a break.”
He went on to add:
“I’ve had my share of concussions, and sometimes I didn’t take the correct amount of time, and that catches up to you,” Kampmann said. “I feel OK. I’ve been better, but I feel I want to take a break. That’s why I’m taking a break.”
Often, fighters don’t get the credit they deserve when they exhibit self-preservation and wisdom – two traits that seem to be the antithesis of what we’d want churning inside a fighter’s mind. But some of them do have a notion of the sands trickling down to the bottom half of the hourglass. Chuck Liddell did not – concussion after concussion and still he wanted to trudge on for the sake of disappearing glory. But Kampmann does, and it’s a commendable thing.
Cagepotato posted an article recently about fighters who actually left at the right time, and it was spot on in its assessment of who got out when they should have gotten out. Of course, Kampmann fell short of saying he was retiring – like Georges St. Pierre, he’s taking something along the lines of a break – but whether he comes back or not, the sentiment is there. Time has crept up and played its dirty trick, so it’s time to stop – at least for a while.