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UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine review
by Scott Newman (MMA)
Posted on September 22, 2009, 7:14 AM

UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine

Columbus, Ohio

-Your hosts are Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan.

Lightweight Fight: Shane Nelson vs Aaron Riley

Really tough test for TUF 8ís Hawaiian Nelson then, as he was given longtime veteran Riley as his first post-reality show opponent. Riley had returned to the UFC in November with a win over Jorge Gurgel, and I was expecting him to follow that up with a relatively easy victory here as Nelson had never fought an opponent of Rileyís calibre. Side note, but how can the pre-fight package claim Nelson was ďriding a seven-fight winning streakĒ when everyone saw him lose to Efrain Escudero on TUF? I mean sure those fights are considered Ďexhibitionsí, but he still lost, you know?

We get started and Riley comes forward early with a couple of low kicks. Nelson catches one but canít get the takedown and upon trying one of his own he slips to the ground. The Hawaiian pops right back up and Riley looks to land a combo but doesnít catch him clean. They circle off before Nelson catches a low kick and counters with a right hand that drops Riley, and on the way down Nelson lands another heavy one! Riley looks in trouble, but spins to his guard to defend...and referee Rick Fike comes in to stop the fight. Crowd immediately shower the cage with boos as Riley gets to his feet looking completely lucid, protesting the stoppage. Damnit.

Post-fight Nelson apologises, but itís not his fault and he pleads with the crowd not to boo him. Well, I donít think theyíre booing Nelson anyway but hey. Ridiculous stoppage as Riley was clearly fine despite being dropped, but for me the problem here is with the athletic commissions as opposed to the referees. I mean, itís a heat-of-the-moment thing and human error is bound to happen sometimes, but surely with a call like that, the athletic commissions should give the referees the power to restart the fight if itís clear they made an error. I mean, itís happened on multiple occasions now in 2009 alone, usually with inexperienced referees like Fike, and it robs everyone, the fans included, of a decent fight. For me if thereís no question that the fighter is okay Ė like Riley was here Ė they should just put it down to a human error and restart it. Shitty stuff.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Brandon Vera vs Michael Patt

After four pretty terrible performances in a row (vs. Tim Sylvia, Fabricio Werdum, Reese Andy and Keith Jardine) this was likely the last chance saloon for Vera, particularly as he was on a hefty contract that had been signed prior to his first loss. Patt though appeared to be a bone thrown to Vera by Zuffa, as he hadnít looked great in his September debut and didnít appear to have the advantage over Vera in any area.

First round begins and Vera lands a nasty leg kick right off the bat. Another one almost takes Patt off his feet. Vera is looking super aggressive here. Good combination lands for him as Patt looks like heís struggling to settle down. Another brutal leg kick catches Patt and Vera follows with a short combination ending with an uppercut. Good straight left follows. Patt blocks a left high kick with his arm, but he looks badly outgunned standing and Vera lands another leg kick. Inside leg kick now from Vera. Leg kick drops Patt but Vera steps off and lets him back up. Another leg kick lands and I donít think Patt can take many more of these. Head kick from Patt is blocked by Vera. More combos land for the Truth and man was that a dominant round for him. 10-9 Vera.

Into the 2nd and Vera comes out with another combo. Patt tries to bring some more aggression, but heís still taking leg kicks. Two vicious ones land and Patt goes down, but Veraís having none of that and waves him up. Pattís badly limping now. One more BRUTAL LEG KICK takes Patt off his feet and the referee calls it there.

Dominant performance from Vera and even though the calibre of opponent was far lower than Jardine, Werdum et al, this was still encouraging as Vera came out much more aggressively and looked more like the Brandon Vera who burst onto the scene in 2006. His leg kicks were unbelievably vicious. Good stuff from him and hopefully this means heíll start living up to his potential.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Tim Boetsch vs Jason Brilz

Pretty interesting fight here between two guys in the mid-level of the division looking to climb further up the ladder. Boetsch had bounced back from a disappointing loss to Matt Hamill by knocking out Mike Patt in September, while Brilz had debuted in the same month with a punishing TKO over Brad Morris, following a hefty layoff of about two years for reasons Iím not sure of. Impressive record, too Ė 15-1-1 with his only loss back in 2001. Honestly I was unsure who to pick here as while Boetsch had always looked explosive and dangerous, heíd had problems with high-level wrestlers before and thatís Brilzís strong point.

Opening round and Boetsch stuns Brilz right away with a stiff right and a knee to the head! Brilz drops for a takedown but Boetsch stuffs it and opens up with uppercuts and a heavy leg kick. Brilz is evidently a tough dude as heís recovered quickly. Into the clinch for Brilz and he lands some uppercuts before Boetsch breaks off. Right hand puts Brilz on the back foot again but Boetsch doesnít really follow up. Leg kick from Boetsch but Brilz does a good job of catching it and gets the takedown to guard. Good work from Boetsch to kick him off and stand, but Brilz gets right on him and forces him into the cage. They muscle for position in the clinch and then break off, where Brilz wings a couple of combos at the Barbarian. Striking exchange continues and Boetsch stuns him again with a right uppercut. Crowd begin to get restless as Brilz pushes forward with Boetsch winging some hooks at him. Good uppercut from Boetsch. Brilz needs to get this to the ground, stat. With seconds remaining they trade wildly with neither landing properly clean, and the round ends there. 10-9 for Boetsch on my score card.

Between rounds, apparently Brilz is having to stand as his corner have FORGOTTEN THE STOOL. LOL.

Round Two and Brilz looks to close the distance right away. Good right hand actually lands for Brilz. Boetsch lunges in but Brilz grabs a clinch, and this time he delivers a nice takedown to guard. Boetsch looks to squirm from his back, but Brilz passes into half-guard and then into side mount. Good control from Brilz but he isnít really doing much from the position. Couple of short elbows land but he has to be more active than this. Boetsch tries to scramble, but Brilz keeps top position and ends up in north/south. Couple of shots and then he goes back to side mount and knees to the body. Back to north/south and Brilz opens up with some punches to the head. He goes for the Hughes crucifix, but that allows Boetsch to slip out, and now Brilz goes for a guillotine, but he canít quite lock it up properly, and ends up back in side mount. Boetsch explodes to his feet, but gets caught in a rear waistlock and Brilz lands some knees to the legs and then the head. Boetsch manages to turn into him slightly, but Brilz is still controlling him from the position. Referee breaks them up but nothing happens before the buzzer sounds. Easy round for Jason Brilz, 10-9.

Third and final round of what could still be either guyís fight. We begin and Brilz closes the distance quickly, forcing Boetsch into the cage. Boetsch tries to block, but Brilz drags him down with a whizzer. Boetsch pops up quickly though, but he looks wary of the takedown now and heís opening up much less than in the first round. Clinch again from Brilz but he canít get Boetsch down and they break. Big knee from Boetsch but Brilz grabs hold of him and gets him down off it. He takes the back as they go down, ending up with an over/under with no hooks. He lands some punches and then gets one hook in, but Boetsch turns into him and winds up on his back in half-guard. Into side mount for Brilz and he stays on Boetsch as he works to his feet. They break off and Boetsch is looking very tentative now. Single leg attempt from Brilz and he turns the corner and gets Boetsch down in half-guard. Into side mount right away and with a minute to go I donít think Boetsch is getting up. Brilz lands some punches and then opens up with knees to the body, and then he switches to full mount. Boetsch tries to hold on, but he eats some elbows and while it doesnít look like heís going to be finished, heís bloodied up. Brilz continues to chip away at him with punches as Joe Rogan yells wildly for Brilz to try an armbar, but he plays it safe and keeps mount until the round ends.

Iíve got this 29-28 for Brilz then, taking the last two rounds, and all three judges agree, unanimous decision for Jason ĎHitmaní Brilz. Basically the key factor here was that once Brilz had taken Boetsch down once and controlled him there, Boetsch seemed too worried about the ground game to let his striking go, and ironically that allowed Brilz to close the distance and take him down over and over. Impressive showing for Brilz and this really showed up the holes evident in Boetschís overall game.

Middleweight Fight: Kendall Grove vs Jason Day

Strangely enough there was talk online of this being a possible last chance fight for Kendall, which I donít get as his last fight had seen him defeat former champion Evan Tanner (RIP). Granted heíd taken almost a year off following that due to the birth of his daughter, but hey, whatís the problem with that? If anyone here was in danger of losing their job with the UFC it was Day in my opinion, as heíd been destroyed by Michael Bisping in his last fight after an impressive debut against Alan Belcher. Dayís also sporting a Miguel Torres mullet for some reason here. Doesnít look as good as Miguelís of course!

Round One begins and when Bruce Buffer announces Rick Fike as the ref he gets booed out of the building, heh. Day comes out chasing Grove but Kendall stays on the outside and moves off. He looks to swarm over Grove, but Kendallís movement looks better here and he lands a right hook as Day steps in. They exchange a couple of leg kicks and then Grove gets a plum clinch, but Day goes to work with hooks and uppercuts that force him to release. Flurry from Day but he doesnít land clean and Grove clinches and then breaks off. Suddenly a MASSIVE STRAIGHT RIGHT from Grove drops Day like a ton of bricks, and Kendall pounces with some elbows to stiffen the Canadian up. Wow!

Awesome knockout for Grove. The punch connected right on the button and switched Dayís lights right out, and the elbows were basically academic as he was done at that point. Very good showing for the TUF 3 winner, who post-fight says heís massively happy with the win as itíll let him keep his job with the UFC, then he dedicates the win to his daughter.

Welterweight Fight: Tamdan McCrory vs Ryan Madigan

Sometimes in MMA we get what sounds like a great match on paper ruined by injuries and totally changed by the time the show comes around. Case in point here Ė this shouldíve seen Ben Saunders facing Dustin Hazelett (!) in what probably wouldíve been a main card bout between two of the 170lbs divisionís most exciting young prospects, but first Hazelett injured himself and was replaced by McCrory, giving us McCrory-Saunders which is a good fight in its own right. Of course Ben then got hurt and the unknown debutant Ryan Madigan came in, and no offense to him, but itís hardly Saunders-Hazelett now is it? Obvious pick here seemed to be the Barn Cat.

We begin and Madigan open with a low kick. McCrory looks to close the distance and forces him into the fence, getting a takedown to guard. He works to pass, seemingly showing no fear of Madiganís guard. Into side mount for McCrory, and he controls Madigan as the newcomer squirms. McCrory stands to drop some big punches, but puts himself back in the guard in the process. Couple of elbows land for the Barn Cat inside the guard. A quick pass puts him into side mount again and this time he steps over into full mount. Madigan looks in trouble and McCrory looks to step over for a topside triangle, but he misses it and ends up back in side mount. He lands a couple of elbows and then goes for the triangle again but almost puts himself in a leglock! Madigan tries to get it, but Tamdan easily escapes and gets back to side mount. Madigan is getting TOOLED here. Full mount for McCrory again and now he pounds away with punches and elbows until Madigan verbally taps out.

Post-fight McCrory curses through his interview with Joe Rogan, literally getting almost as many Ďbleepsí as Mark Coleman on the UFC 93 Behind the Scenes feature! Apparently heís pissed that Dana changed his walk-in music from some death metal track. Dominant showing for the Barn Cat against the newcomer, who just got clowned on the ground.

Lightweight Fight: Gray Maynard vs Jim Miller

Talk about an intriguing fight Ė both of these men were unbeaten in the UFC (Maynard unbeaten in his whole career) and had looked fantastic in their last few fights, with Miller taking out David Baron and Matt Wiman, Maynard beating Rich Clementi and Frankie Edgar Ė and the winner would definitely appear to be on the fast track to a possible title shot and a top ten ranking. My pick? Maynard, based on his larger size and superior wrestling, which at this point, coupled with his boxing and improving submission game, makes him a nightmare match for about 90% of the 155lbs division.

First round begins and itís Miller who comes out attacking, looking to strike. He clinches and forces Gray into the cage, but Maynard easily stuffs the takedown attempt and they exchange some knees to the gut before breaking. Miller continues to look to land punches, but Maynardís movement looks excellent here and he ducks under a shot to land a combo to the body and head. Big right hand lands for Gray and he follows with a brutal shot to the body. Miller comes right back with a hard body kick. Single leg attempt from Maynard but Gray lands some vicious uppercuts as he hops around on one leg, blocking the takedown. Unbelievable takedown defense to avoid. Miller forces him into the cage, but heís bleeding badly from the nose now. He goes for the takedown again but still canít get Gray down, and finally Maynard breaks off. Lot of blood coming from Millerís nose. Striking exchange continues to end out the round, and Maynard gets the better of it, landing a couple of really crisp right hands that look to have Miller stunned. 10-9 round for Gray Maynard.

Round Two and both men press forward, with Maynard landing an early right hand. Couple of good leg kicks land for Miller as Maynard seems content with purely boxing. Heís doing a good job though, landing straight punches down the pipe to the head and body. Another good leg kick lands for Miller, but this time the ref claims itís low and warns him. Huh, didnít look low to me. They continue and Maynard nails him with a combination, showing some really heavy hands. Goldberg on commentary mentions the Miller brothers as just one pair of brothers whoíve fought in the UFC, citing the Lauzon brothers, Diaz brothers, Serra brothers, Shamrock brothers and Hughes brothers as the others. Iíll bet the majority of the TUF fans wouldnít even realize Matt Hughes and Matt Serra had brothers, let alone that they fought in the UFC. Miller shoots on a single again and this time decides to pull guard when Gray stuffs it, but Maynardís having none of that and he pulls out and stands. Miller comes wading forward, but eats a right hand that rocks him and forces him to back up. Seconds remaining in the round and Maynard continues to out-box Miller, landing punches seemingly at will, and Jimís face is looking terrible at this point. Doesnít look like he can do much about it either as he canít get Gray down. 10-9 for Maynard again and this is looking one-sided at this point.

Third and final round and Miller looks to push the action, coming forward, but he eats a couple more combinations from Maynard who isnít slowing down at all. Crowd are becoming restless though as Maynardís landing shots but he doesnít look like finishing the fight. Good body kick from Miller. Miller throws a right and looks for the takedown again, but once more itís easily stuffed, and then Maynard decides to change it up Ė by shooting in and easily slamming Miller to the ground. Miller goes for a kneebar right away though and almost gets it, but Maynard slips free and explodes to his feet. Well, thereís the reason why he wasnít looking to go to the ground earlier I guess. Single leg attempt from Miller but Gray sprawls out to avoid and lands some hammer fists to the head. Miller tries desperately to get him down, audibly straining, but he still canít get Gray on his back and Maynard avoids his attempts at pulling guard too. Maynardís wrestling is sick and heís ridiculously strong for 155lbs too. Gray ends up in Millerís half-guard and he drops some vicious punches from the outside, and worse for Miller he looks exhausted. Back to the feet for Gray and itís more of the same as he throws punches down the pipe until the round comes to an end.

Iíve got this a total shutout; 30-27 for Gray Maynard, and the judges all agree with that too. This was an excellent showing of what great wrestling coupled with strong boxing can do, as Miller was badly outgunned standing and despite having a big advantage on the ground, he never came close to getting Gray down there outside of when Maynard himself took it there. Not the most entertaining fight as Maynard never really came close to finishing Ė Miller is a tough guy Ė but still, an impressive showing and I think Maynard ought to be taken seriously as a real title contender at 155lbs.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Matt Hamill vs Mark Munoz

Two big-time wrestlers in this one, with everyoneís favourite deaf dude Hamill taking on WEC import Munoz, a guy who probably wouldíve ended up taking that organizationís 205lbs title eventually. This was a difficult one to pick as while Munoz has the better wrestling credentials on paper (NCAA Division One National Champion!) heís a bit small and chubby for 205lbs while Hamill is basically huge for that division and is also freakishly strong. Still, I was going with the sort-of-upset and picking the Filipino Wrecking Machine to make an impressive debut by beating Hamill.

We get started and right away thereís a big size advantage evident for Hamill. Munoz swings an overhand right and then shoots on a double leg, but Hamill stuffs it. Munoz stays on the outside, but Hamill peppers him with combos as he comes forward, looking much better standing than I can ever recall seeing him. Munoz is stunned early and he shoots on a single, but Hamill manages to sprawl well again and they end up on the mat with Hamill on top. Munoz keeps trying for the takedown, but he canít get the Hammer down and they come back to their feet. Munoz tries a pair of overhand rights, but Hamill deflects them and then comes forward with another combo. Munoz is basically just throwing power hooks here, little technique really. Combo from Hamill has him stunned, and now Hamill stuffs another takedown with ease. Good leg kick from Hamill. Munoz continues to swing with the overhand right but still canít catch Hamill cleanly, and he looks a little tired now too. Clinch attempt from Munoz but Hamill muscles him off pretty easily. Hamill avoids another takedown attempt and then wades forward with a combo. Munoz continues to try to fire back, but suddenly eats a MASSIVE RIGHT HIGH KICK that KILLS HIM DEAD and IT IS ALL OVER!~!

WOW. That was one of the most vicious finishes Iíve ever seen in MMA. I mean not only did Hamill kill him dead with the kick, but his head hit his OWN KNEE on the way down and Hamill added some extra punches too. Good lord. Absolutely sickening. Great showing from Hamill who showed tremendous improvements in his striking, and Munoz, despite having better wrestling credentials on paper, just couldnít deal with Hamillís size advantage and the advantage Hamill had in the striking and fighting experience too.

Welterweight Fight: Matt Brown vs Pete Sell

If Iím honest I have no idea how this made the main card Ė probably due to the loss of Hazelett-Saunders I guess, but personally I wouldíve had Grove-Day in this spot. No biggie I guess. Brown was looking for his third Octagon win following a submission over Ryan Thomas in late 2008, while Sell wanted his second win on the bounce at 170lbs after a decision over Josh Burkman in October. My pick? Sell because I love the Long Island boys as long as theyíre not fighting GSP.

Round One and Brown opens with a left head kick that glances off the side of Peteís dome. Sell pushes forward, but a superman punch snaps his head back. Another pair of head kicks wobble him and then a left-right combo puts him down! Sell looks done and referee Yves Lavigne pulls Brown off...but decides to let it continue as Sell somehow gets up like a zombie. Huh? Brown wades back in and drops Sell with a series of knees, pounding him on the ground, as Pete desperately holds onto a single leg. Brown bombs at the head and why the ref hasnít called this Iím not sure. Brown stuffs the takedown using a guillotine and then lands some HARD elbows that knock Sellís mouthpiece out. A pair of knees put Sell back on jelly legs and following a right and a head kick, the Long Islander basically just collapses. Brownís now BEGGING the ref to stop it and a few more punches finally end things.

Really odd fight overall. I mean, Sell looked done the first time he was dropped, and I guess Yves Lavigne agreed, so why let it continue when Sell was clearly out? I guess he was trying to avoid a re-run of Riley-Nelson, but to let a guy continue like that when he was blatantly out of it was absolutely despicable. A very good win for Matt Brown who looked excellent, but this was honestly difficult to watch from a sporting standpoint.

Heavyweight Fight: Shane Carwin vs Gabriel Gonzaga

While casual fans might not have really known Carwin due to the fact that he hadnít been on a televised card at this stage (though his prelim victory over Christian Wellisch was shown at UFC 84), for hardcores this was a huge co-main event as the monstrous wrestler was faced with easily his toughest fight to date against the dangerous Brazilian Gonzaga. Really this was difficult to pick simply because Carwin was so untested, but when the reason youíre untested is because you kill all of your opponents in like a minute or so, itís not so easy just to go with the more experienced guy. Gonzaga had looked great in his previous two fights against Justin McCully and Josh Hendricks, and on paper he had the advantage in terms of submissions and technical striking too, but he had been known to fold under pressure before, and Carwinís frighteningly powerful. In the end I ended up taking Gonzaga purely based on his experience in big fights before.

These guys are HUGE. First round gets underway and they circle briefly before Carwin pushes forward looking to close the distance. Gonzaga avoids his attempt at clinching and then lands a pair of VICIOUS RIGHTS that rock Carwinís world! Single leg from Napao follows into Carwinís half-guard, but Carwin does a tremendous job from the bottom to get back to full guard and then uses the fence to get back to his feet. Carwin might still be wobbled, and Gonzaga breaks off and swings, but Carwin counters with a SHORT RIGHT CROSS that drops Napao to the ground! Gonzaga is FOLDED and Carwin quickly follows up for the stoppage! Holy shit.

Punch was incredibly short and it didnít even look like Carwin got his whole weight behind it, but good lord does the guy pack serious power as Gonzaga was DONE. Fight went about a minute, as per usual for Carwin, but we found out a lot more about him here than weíd done before as Gonzaga hits like a mack truck and he caught Carwin cleanly Ė breaking his nose in fact Ė but Shane was able to overcome that, overcome being taken down by a legit BJJ black belt, and managed to knock the guy out, all in like a minute. Too short to be considered a great fight or anything but damn was it dramatic. Huge, HUGE win for Carwin and he has to be considered a legit contender now.

Light-Heavyweight Fight: Quinton ĎRampageí Jackson vs Keith Jardine

Main event was a bit thrown-together as Rampage had only fought in December, and they basically ended up putting this in the main slot as they had nobody else free at the time. Pretty high stakes in the end though, as with the injury to Frank Mir causing Mayís UFC 98 main event to be scrapped, the plan was to do Rashad Evans vs. Rampage, should he beat Jardine, for the LHW Title there. If Jardine won, then itíd be Rashad-Lyoto Machida in May instead. While Jardine is a tough fight for anyone at 205lbs, I didnít see Rampage missing his shot at the title, and figured heíd use the Houston Alexander/Wanderlei Silva gameplan Ė come out of the gates like a maniac and overwhelm the Dean of Mean early on.

We begin and Rampage comes out with bad intentions, but walks right into an early clinch. They muscle for position with Rampage forcing him into the cage, but very little happens and the ref separates them. Jardine misses with a combo but lands with a leg kick. Another one lands and Jardine tries to stick and move as Rampage looks to use his jab. Takedown attempt by Jardine is stuffed by Rampage and they end up clinched along the fence again. Couple of uppercuts land inside for Rampage as he defends the takedown, and he ends up switching position and forcing Jardine into the fence. They break off and circle, with Quinton looking to counter the leg kick. Right hand lands for Rampage and forces Jardine onto his back foot. Body kick from Jardine is blocked, and then Rampage closes in and stuns him with a combo. Jardine retreats to survive though. Rampage continues to look for the counter and he lands another heavy combo to put Jardine against the fence. Brief clinch is broken and the round ends there. Close round to score but Iíd give it to Rampage for landing the bigger shots, 10-9.

Into the 2nd and the striking exchange continues, with Rampage actually landing a leg kick. Good body kick from Jardine. Jardine keeps charging in and out throwing shots, but he hasnít landed anything major just yet. Good leg kick into a left hand from the Dean of Mean. Another leg kick lands for Keith but Rampage looks to counter, and in a bit of a wild trade Jackson decks him with a left hook! Jardine looks to be in deep trouble as Rampage pounces into the guard, slugging away, but Jardine does a good job of getting to his feet, grabbing the clinch to slow Rampage up. Big crowd pop for that one. Rampage breaks off but Jardine looks somewhat recovered now and he lands a leg kick. Takedown from Rampage and he lands in side mount. Jardine turns and gives his back, but he uses it to stand up and Rampage forces him back into the cage. They break quickly and in an exchange Jardine catches Rampage in the groin with a leg kick. Ref calls time to let him recover and then they restart, and suddenly Jardine goes hugely on the offensive, landing some haymakers that stun Jackson and have him backing up into the fence! Rampage looks buckled and begins to cover up, but then fires back and they trade kicks! Good leg kick from Jardine as they settle back down. Nice counter-right from Rampage and then he wades forward swinging into the clinch, where the round ends. Very, very close round there. Iíd go for Jardine were it not for the knockdown. Maybe a 10-10 round even.

Round Three and this could still go either way. Body kick right away from Jardine. Both men still looking to trade blows. Crowd begin a chant of ĎRampageí. Jardine swings but Rampage surprises him with a double leg and puts him in half-guard. Jardine immediately works to get up though, and does so using an underhook. They end up clinched against the fence but break off again. Odd stance from Jardine now as heís almost doubled over, but he still lands a couple of good leg kicks as heís not actually gassed or anything. Beautiful uppercut stepping forward from Jardine. This fight is slipping away from Rampage. Another good leg kick from Jardine. Right hand from Rampage stuns him though, but he manages to back up and recover. Now Jardine goes for the takedown, but he canít take Rampage off his feet and again Jackson reverses position and forces Jardine into the fence. Referee breaks them up and now Rampage lands a good combination to put Jardine on the retreat. They trade some BOMBS and thatís to Rampageís advantage as Jardine looks wobbled. Seconds remaining now and Jardine narrowly misses a high kick. Wild trade in the final seconds and Jackson DECKS HIM WITH A LEFT HOOK ON THE BUZZER! That fight turned into one hell of a brawl in the end.

Iíve got the final round going to Rampage purely on the last minute, and that makes it 30-28 for Jackson on my scorecard. Judges have it 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 all for Quinton ĎRampageí Jackson. Good win for him but boy did he have to work for it. Fight was close throughout but Rampage landed the bigger strikes and that made the difference.

Post-fight Jackson admits he felt the pressure, Jardine was tougher than he expected, and he didnít stick to his gameplan which (as I suspected) was to rush him from the opening bell. And then we bring in Rashad Evans for a face-off with Rampage, which gets MAD PERSONAL as theyíre right in one anotherís faces, talking trash. Awesome! Pity that Rampage ended up dropping out of the title match and letting Lyoto take it instead, but I guess weíll see the Rampage-Rashad fight soon enough anyway so hey.

-And we roll the highlight reel there.

Final Thoughts....

Like the show that preceded it, UFC 96 is a generally weaker card on paper that ended up delivering some pretty solid, entertaining fights. Like with UFC 95 thereís nothing absolutely outstanding here Ė Jackson-Jardine is the best of the bunch Ė and the rest is mainly highlight-reel stuff, especially Hamill-Munoz, Carwin-Gonzaga, Grove-Day and Brown-Sell. There are a couple of slower fights here (Brilz-Boetsch and Maynard-Miller) but in general, ignoring the shitty refereeing in Nelson-Riley, this is a solid-but-unspectacular show. Thumbs leaning up for this one.

Best Fight: Jackson-Jardine
Worst Fight: Nelson-Riley

Overall Rating: ***3/4

Coming Soon....

UFC: 97-103, Fight Nights 18 & 19, TUF IX Finale.
King of the Cage: Various shows

Until next time,

Scott Newman:

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