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UFC 96 Preview: Controlled Demolition- Rampage Favored Against Jardine

Preview by Brady Crytzer

The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, March 7th where it presents UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine. In the main event of UFC 96, former light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson looks to get back into the title picture when he takes on the tough perennial contender Keith Jardine. With serious title implications, UFC 96 matches up a pair of 205 pound dynamos responsible for some of the most exciting fights in recent UFC history. Let’s see how they match up . . . .

Striking: In his latest outing, Jackson showed a renewed sense of discipline knocking out Wanderlai Silva with a picture perfect left hook to the chin. Patience has never been a virtue for Jackson, hence the moniker “Rampage.” Under Juanito Ibarra, Jackson wrangled in his energy and focused it on improving on his natural gifts. Now training at the Wolfslair in England, Jackson will most likely fight at his highest potential. Jardine has heavy punches but has had problems letting his hands go. He is a slow starter and can be overwhelmed early (ala Houston Alexander/Wanderlai Silva.) Look for “Rampage” to show off his new and improved boxing skills against an outgunned “Dean of Mean.”

Edge: Jackson will show off his new and improved boxing skills and punish Jardine on the feet.

Grappling: Any time that you have two honest brawlers in a cage the ground game is generally a second thought. In truth, we haven’t seen much of either man’s grappling skills, but we’ve seen enough ( although we certainly haven’t seen their fullest potential.) Jardine trains with Greg Jackson at one of the premiere camps in the sport. Home to UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, Jackson’s camp is loaded with top shelf talent. Jackson has an edge in natural strength, and he is learning from the best at Wolfslair, but Jardine has been with Jackson for his entire UFC career and that pedigree will show. Jardine rolls with Rashad Evans, Nate Marquardt and GSP on a regular basis…he won’t be surprised by anything Jackson brings on March 6th.

Edge: IF we see this fight hit the floor with both men still fresh, Jardine should be able to control Jackson. However, “Rampage’s” strength has outmuscled better wrestlers in the past. Don’t count on this being a grappling contest.

The Verdict: Jackson via “controlled demolition.” “Rampage” has made a career out of being unpredictable, and that hasn’t always been a good thing. However, recent success and a new training camp have rejuvenated the former UFC title holder into a true professional prize fighter.

Jackson has the edge in hands speed and power and should throw a lot of punches early to make Jardine think twice about engaging.

Keith Jardine is always at his best as an underdog (Liddell, Griffin, Vera.) When he is expected to win however he always seems to drop the ball (Alexander, Silva)

Look for well placed and well timed punches by Jackson to catch Jardine coming in.  A“Rampage” KO will set up Jardine’s teammate Rashad Evans for a BIG Summer showdown.



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