USCS Behind The Scenes: Mike Camp Thrives as One of Midwest's Leading Matchmakers
For more than a decade, Mike Camp has served as an integral ingredient for success for a number of mixed martial arts promotions throughout the Midwest. Spending stints as competitor and manager, Camp is most well known as the matchmaker for some of the area's premier organizations.
Camp has been involved in the MMA scene since its budding years. He first found his interest in the sport 12 years ago when he and a close friend began honing their skills in the living room. These rumbles were short lived when Camp's now had enough of it.
"My buddy actually put me through a window," Camp told US Combat Sports. "We broke the window and my wife said 'If your gonna continue this, your gonna have to find somewhere else."
And he did. Camp jumped headfirst into the sport by training under legendary coach Pat Militech and eventually finishing a professional career that included two wins to only one loss. After suffering a loss to Demian Decorah at Madtown Throwdown 5 in his pro debut, "The Madman" finished off his in-ring career in grand finish with stoppages over Anthony Ferguson and Jack O'Neill.
But Camp's 73-second destruction of O'Neill at Evolution 4 wasn't the last time "The Madman" would step into the cage. Camp's fiancé at the time sprung a surprise on him that they would be married within the Octagon at UFC 136:Worlds Collide. With Militech serving as best man alongside Frank Shamrock, Randy Couture, and Matt Hughes, Camp and his wife Laryssa were married.
"As far as I know we are the first and the only couple to be married in the Octagon," laughed Camp.
With a few fights and a wedding under his belt "The Madman" moved out of the ring and into a different phase of the sport; one which would pay big dividends for him and the overall growth of the sport as a manager and matchmaker.
Camp now spends all of his time matchmaking and managing fights throughout the entire Midwest. Associated with promotions such as Madtown Throwdown, King of the Cage, and the North American Fighting Championship, Camp tends to have his hands in filled with a card somewhere. "Right now I am setting up six fights in six different cities," he said.
Some people may think that setting up these fights would be a breeze. All you have to do is wait for two fighters to call that have a similar record and throw them into the ring together and a great fight is born, right? If only it were that simple.
"A lot of guys look solely at record, but that isn't always conducive to a good fight," says Camp. Instead, he looks at every aspect of a fighter spanning from height, weight, training camp, and even age. More importantly, Camp tries matching styles to implement the best possible result in the cage. "I try to match a kick boxer with a kick boxer or a wrestler with a Jiu Jitsu guy."
Camp is almost like a detective in the aspect that he must thoroughly dig for every little detail that he can come up with to find the perfect pairing between fighters. This is not to say that the fighters themselves cannot help in this process by providing every detail and being honest and in depth when they are contacting Camp.
"In the real world, you're not going to call an employer and say hey I wanna work, what you got." For the situation to work out best for both parties, it helps that both are professional and Camp conducts himself as so. It should be known though that Camp is not doing this to trouble fighters or make their lives harder by any means.
"I consider myself to be a fighter's matchmaker in the fact that I used to fight. Nothing major or monumental but I know the trials and tribulations and would never want to deprive a guy of that if he has done everything as he is supposed to."
This same idea goes hand in hand with Camp's strategy when it comes to booking his cards. Cutting someone from a card is something Camp does not believe in due to aforementioned reasons. This is why Camp believes in overbooking cards, especially when it comes to the amateur level. "I believe in overbooking to offset for natural occurrences. If I want to have 12 fights, I'll book 20."
Camps passion and love for the sport is apparent with his work. With frustration stemming from what he called "a bit of OCD" this frustration melts away on fight night when he sees all of his hard work coming together within the cage.
"I'll be stomping around cursing because things aren't going the way I want them to go. Then when I get to the event and see the work I have put together and the matchups, its bliss and it all pays off and was worth it in the end."
Camp pours everything he has into this sport that the nation has grown to love. With a career spanning 12 years, Camp has seen highs and lows in the sport, but nothing can ever come between him and his love for MMA.