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Matt Hamill Beats Keith Jardine

Matt Hamill and Keith JardineA bloody and brutal battle between Keith Jardine and Matt Hamill at the Ultimate Fighter Finale Saturday night ended with Hamill winning a close majority decision, for what may have been the biggest win of his MMA career.

For Jardine, it was a very disappointing loss, and one that raises the question of how many more losses he can suffer and still keep his spot on the UFC roster.

Jardine's punches and kicks come in from unusual angles, and as it so often has for Jardine's opponents, that style appeared to frustrate Hamill in a first round during which he wasn't able to land much standing up and never got the fight to the ground. For the opening five minutes, things appeared to be going well for Jardine.

Early in the second round Jardine continued to frustrate Hamill, who wanted to get inside for a takedown but was never able to do so, and Jardine looked like he was well on his way to dominating the fight standing up. But then things got chaotic, as Hamill started to charge forward, landed several punches and appeared to have Jardine badly hurt -- only to crumple to the ground in pain when Jardine poked him in the eye. Although the eye poke appeared to be accidental, referee Herb Dean deducted a point from Jardine.

After the pause for the eye poke both guys went back to business pounding each other in the face, and by the end of the round both of them were badly bloody, especially Jardine. (The viewers at home were treated to a close-up of the blood when some of it got on a TV camera lens.)

In the third round Hamill finally secured the takedown that he wasn't able to land in the first two rounds, and he looked like he was starting to take control. Jardine did manage to get back to his feet and land some more strikes, but as the fight came to an end Hamill appeared to be more fresh and was landing more effective strikes, but Jardine was more active -- even though he missed as often as he connected.

The judges scored it 29-27, 29-27 and 28-28, giving Hamill a win by majority decision. I scored it 29-27 for Hamill.

"I give a lot of credit to Keith Jardine," Hamill said after the fight. "My hat's off to Keith. I've been working so hard -- he's a great fighter but I think I'm a better fighter."

On this night, anyway, Hamill was better. And he handed Jardine his fourth straight loss.