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UFC 96 'Jackson vs. Jardine' Preview

UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine will come to us all live from the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on March 7, 2009. The bottom line of the main event between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Keith Jardine is simple: the winner looks good; the loser drops off in the championship picture big time.

Now, let's get this going.

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (29-7) vs. Keith Jardine (14-5-1): Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is one of the strongest fighters in the 205 pound division, which is why he was able to execute those picture perfect slams while fighting for PRIDE. The difference is that he's much more technically sound these days.

Rampage possesses excellent takedowns, takedown defense, and ground control skills. Though he doesn't have much in the line of offensive submissions, he is very hard to catch in a submission. From a striking perspective, Rampage has excellent boxing skills and hits hard. His cardio these days is also pretty solid.

However, against Forrest Griffin he proved susceptible on his feet against a diverse striker capable of utilizing his legs (those Griffin low kicks hurt him). Speaking of a guy with good low kicks. . .

Keith Jardine is a very technically sound and diverse striker. He also hits extremely hard. Perhaps one of his greatest strengths on his feet is the use of his legs. Further, he has solid wrestling skills and better submissions than he's shown in fights to date.

Jardine has never proven to be an overly quick, nor athletic fighter, even if he is strong. Along with this, he's been overwhelmed by more athletic and aggressive fighters inside like Wanderlei Silva and Houston Alexander in recent fights.

Prediction: Rampage would seem to have the athleticism and hands to possibly overwhelm Jardine, but he doesn't tend to fight as aggressively as an Alexander or Silva; so that will take a change in his early fight tactics. Expect Jardine to be happy connecting with low kicks from a distance so as to avoid those big bombs of Rampage's. Guess is that Jackson could eventually takedown a difficult-to-takedown Jardine if he pressed things. But expect that only if the stand up fighting isn't going his way.

On their feet, this one is close. In the end, though, expect Rampage to fight very aggressively in the first round and catch Jardine when he's most susceptible?early in the fight. Along with this, Jardine will have difficulty keeping distance between himself and his opponent.

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson wins via TKO in round one.

Gabriel Gonzaga (10-3) vs. Shane Carwin (10-0): Gonzaga is an awesome athlete with great power, athleticism, and overall skills. Highlighting this are his strong submission skills and high kicks. Carwin is as powerful a fighter as they come. Further, his wrestling background is top notch, which would appear to indicate that this fight may go where he wants it to. In the end, Gonzaga is a more experienced striker than his opponent. But Carwin, if he plays his cards right, will use his wrestling and power to wear Gonzaga down by going farther into this fight than any of his previous encounters.

Shane Carwin wins via TKO in round three.

Pete Sell (8-5) vs. Matt Brown (11-7): Both of these are tough guys that hit hard. Both also have ground skills. Give it to the guy that trains in Ohio.

Matt Brown wins via second round TKO.

Matt Hamill (7-2) vs. Mark Munoz (5-0): Who's the better wrestler? That doesn't matter. The only question that matters is, who's the better fighter? Munoz has a future in this sport, but Hamill has the better MMA resume to date.

Matt Hamill wins via unanimous decision.

Gray Maynard (7-0-1) vs. Jim Miller (13-1): Talk about a tough fight to call. Both of these guys are people to watch in the lightweight division for years to come. But in the end, the last time Maynard played around with a jiu jitsu guy the caliber of Miller, he was submitted on TUF by Nate Diaz (doesn't show on his record as it was TUF). He's improved a lot since then, but Miller is really good on the canvas.

Jim Miller wins via submission in round two.

Tamdan McCrory (11-2) vs. Ryan Madigan (5-0): Madigan has excellent skills, but we all know how hard it is for UFC first timers to win.

Tamdan McCrory wins via first round TKO.

Kendall Grove (11-5) vs. Jason Day (17-6): Kendall Grove has too much reach.

Kendall Grove wins via second round submission.

Tim Boetsch (8-2) vs. Jason Brilz (16-1-1): Brilz has well-rounded skills and excellent submissions. But "The Barbarian" has the kind of wrestling and power that makes you look twice.

Tim Boetsch wins by way of second round TKO.

Brandon Vera (9-3) vs. Michael Patt (15-3): Patt wants a submission fight. That's not what Vera will give him.

Brandon Vera wins via second round TKO.

Aaron Riley (27-10-1) vs. Shane Nelson (10-3): Riley is one tough hombre.

Aaron Riley wins via unanimous decision.