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Rampage Jackson Satisfied, Despite Not Finishing Matt Hamill

LAS VEGAS – Matt Hamill said he planned on breaking the will of Rampage Jackson in their main event at UFC 130 on Saturday. But when Hamill took a knee after the final horn, Jackson had turned the table.

Jackson warded off all of Hamill's takedown attempts – despite coming into the fight with a fractured hand, he revealed at the post-fight press conference – and cruised to a unanimous decision victory. The win is likely to put Jackson in line as the top contender for Jon Jones' light heavyweight title later this fall, provided his hand heals on pace.

But the boo birds were out several times during the night, including most notably the main and co-main events. With just three finishes going into the co-main and main, the fans appeared to want some excitement – and many seemed certain they didn't get it in the last two bouts. After the fight, Jackson said he was disappointed he wasn't able to score a knockout, which the fans seemed to want even more than he, but said he wasn't about to blame it on his hand injury – which he said came from a drunken mishap with a friend in Japan.

"I was OK with my performance, (but) I wanted to do a little more," Jackson said. "I knew I could stay on my feet. He had a great game plan, and I could tell he was setting me up to take me down. He had some great low leg kicks, and it made me not do what I wanted to do. I'm a little bit disappointed. I wanted a knockout. Matt's never been knocked out before, and I took it as a personal challenge."


Jackson said he fractured his hand last December in Japan, "drunken fooling around fighting my friend in the hallway." And during training, he said he aggravated the injury. But he said even without the fracture, he doesn't believe he would have been able to knock Hamill out.

"That guy's got a hard head," Jackson said. "I think Matt's got a long future in this sport. I take nothing away from Matt – fractured hand or not, I still wouldn't have knocked him out tonight. I think I needed a hammer. That guy can take a punch. I hit him with everything but the toilet."

Hamill, who saw his five-fight winning streak snapped, said he thought he would be able to use his wrestling to take Jackson down. Hamill was a three-time Division III national champion wrestler.

"I was very surprised," Hamill said. "My takedowns could have been better, but it was a good fight. I'll probably feel it tomorrow. I wasn't really happy with my performance. I'll go back and try to learn from my mistakes. I gave 100 percent, and did all I could. But Rampage is a pretty good fighter."


In the co-main, heavyweights Frank Mir and Roy Nelson put on an exciting first round before Nelson gassed in the second, with Mir not far behind. Mir dominated his fellow Las Vegas resident en route to a unanimous decision. And though he landed quite a few big shots, including knees to Nelson's head, the fight often stalled out, eliciting stronger boos from the crowd as it went deeper.

The Jackson-Hamill fight also heard a few boos, especially as Hamill's takedown attempts appeared to get slower and his striking attempts as he tired late in the fight were light.

But UFC president Dana White said after the post-fight press conference he didn't have any problems with the card in general – though he maintained he continues to be unhappy with Mir's performances.

"Was I thrilled with the main event and co-main? No," White said. "But everything can't be a knockout or submission. I think considering the time off Rampage has had, he looked good. He dominated, he gassed – but that's all part of staying active and busy. I think people's expectations are unreasonable sometimes. Guys will be fighting a great fight and you'll hear people booing – it's like they expect guys to get in a football stance and run across at each other. There's skill, technique, game plans – there's a lot of things involved."

If White was disappointed in the two main fights, his spirits were likely lifted by the performance by Brian Stann in the pay-per-view's opening bout. Stann delivered a TKO against Top 10 middleweight Jorge Santiago, getting the night's loudest ovation on an emotional Memorial Day weekend for the military hero, a Silver Star winner.

"He's on his way to becoming a superstar," White said of Stann. "Chuck (Liddell) said, 'When (Stann) fought in the WEC, I never thought he'd get to this level.' But not only are his skills getting better, everything that comes out of his mouth is a home run. This guy's going to be a superstar."

UFC 130 was not without injuries, some of them perhaps significant in the scheme of future matchups – most importantly, Jackson's fractured hand. Stann was at the post-fight press conference with a broken right thumb. White said Mir went to the hospital with a fractured jaw and rib, though Mir's wife said on Twitter early Sunday morning Mir's jaw was not broken but had complained about his bite after the fight. And Stefan Struve, Santiago, Michael McDonald and Rafaello Oliveira hospital all went to the hospital after their fights.

UFC 130 had a reported attendance of 12,816 fans for a $2.57 million gate. Last year's Memorial Day weekend card, also at the MGM Grand, drew 14,996 fans with a $3.895 million gate and more than 1 million pay-per-view buys. That main event featured a grudge match between Jackson and Rashad Evans. The original main event of UFC 130 was to be a trilogy lightweight title rematch between champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, who fought to a draw at UFC 125. But both fighters were injured in training earlier this month and the fight was scratched.

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