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Jackson gets judges' nod over Jardine
UFC 96 report: Carwin KOs Gonzaga

Octagonside by Brady Crytzer
Photos by Joe Cordova

In the main event of UFC 96 Quinton “Rampage” Jackson outpointed “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine over three exciting rounds to become the number one contender for Rashad Evans’ world light heavyweight title.

The city of Columbus, Ohio has become a fast favorite of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. With some of the most raucous fans in the whole of mixed martial arts, the Nationwide Arena consistently fills itself every March when the Octagon rolls into the land of the almighty Buckeye.

Saturday night was no different as 19,000 plus fans filed into the Nationwide Arena, most before the evening’s first undercard bout.

With a stacked night of exciting fights, it wasn’t hard to lose focus, but there is no doubt that there was one fight on everyone’s mind.

Keith Jardine was focused.

Quinton Jackson was seething.

Columbus was looking for a fight.

Jardine swung immediately, but Jackson slipped the punch and drove him into the cage. After the men were separated, Jardine began throwing his trademark leg kicks to the unwavering former champion. “Rampage” continued to stalk his opponent and Jardine looked to counter. Finding his range, Jackson connected with a hard right hand that drove Jardine back during an exchange. The round closed with both of the fighters headhunting.

Jackson continued to cut the ring off in round two. Jardine was showing strong lateral movement and finding success with quick kicks to the body, but there was a clear respect for the punching power of “Rampage.” Jardine backpedaled away from his charging opponent but ran out of real estate and was hit with a hard left hook that floored him.

Jackson pounced in an attempt to put him man away, but Jardine escaped back to his feet. Jackson scored points with a thunderous takedown, but stood up with hopes of out striking Jardine. Following a low blow, Jardine was penalized one point but seemed to wake up as he stunned Jackson with a quick combination. Round two ended with the fighters trading blows against the cage.

Jackson stunned Jardine with a stiff jab to start off the third round and followed up with a quick right cross. Following a period of missed punches by both men, Jackson closed the distance and took Jardine to the mat. “The Dean of Mean” struggled against the brute strength of Jackson but managed to rise to his feet. In a flash Jardine snapped back the head of the former champion with a right uppercut. 

With under a minute remaining in the fight Jackson came alive with heavy, accurate punches that wobbled Jardine. In the final seconds of the round, Jackson sent his opponent to the canvas with a left-right combination that was an exclamation point on a fantastic fight.

The judges’ scorecards read 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 in favor of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

“I didn’t even stick to my gameplan from the beginning,” Jackson joked. “(My gameplan was to) rush him. To be honest I needed these three rounds.”

Jackson will likely challenge UFC light heavyweight champion “Sugar” Rashad Evans later this summer.

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Carwin Blasts Gonzaga and Stakes Claim to #1 Spot

In an unofficial heavyweight title eliminator 6’4, 260 pound Shane Carwin scored a devastating first round knockout over former title challenger Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga.

Carwin rushed out at the former world title challenger like a man on fire as he threw wild punches. Gonzaga remained composed and scored a takedown, only to have Carwin muscle his way back to his feet.

The two behemoth fighters clinched against the cage and jockeyed for position. As the men separated, Carwin timed a picture perfect right hand that crumpled Gonzaga into a heap on the canvas.

The fight was waved off immediately following two more short punches after the fact. The official time was 1:09.

With this win, Carwin sets himself apart as one of the next possible challengers to Brock Lesnar’s world heavyweight title.

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Brown Knees, Punches, and Kicks His Way to KO

Matt “The Immortal” Brown demolished Pete “Drago” Sell scoring a first round TKO at 1:32.

Brown exploded in the first ten seconds of round one as he hit Sell with not one, not two, but three headkicks in a row. Walking in a daze Sell was sent to the canvas with a picture perfect left-right combination. Brown was satisfied that the fight was over but referee Yves Lavigne waved the action to continue. Brown reluctantly threw two knees that dropped Sell again.

Two more punches finally signaled the end. Lavigne finally waved off the bout at 1:32

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Hamill Shocks Munoz with Brutal Headkick KO

In one of the surprises of the night, Matt “The Hammer” Hamill knocked out fellow wrestling standout Mark Munoz with a brutal headkick at 3:53 of round one.

No surprise to anyone aware of the strong collegiate backgrounds of either man, Munoz opened up with an immediate shot. Hamill responded in kind by reversing his opponent and winding up on top. Munoz worked back to his feet and the men traded punches. Munoz repeatedly threw a wild overhand right that was blocked by Hamill. The fighters were not shy about throwing heavy punches, but neither had much success in landing.  

In a flash, Hamill ripped a headkick that connected square. Munoz crumpled in a violent heap and the fight was stopped immediately.

The official time was 3:53. Mark Munoz walked out of the Octagon despite remaining unconscious for minutes after the knockout.

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Maynard Busts Up Miller

Gray “The Bully” Maynard showed well rounded striking skills as he battered Jim Miller en route to a unanimous decision.

After trading some heavy leather, Miller closed the distance and drove Maynard into the cage. The men soon separated however and Maynard began to land heavy punches to the head and body. Miller reached for a takedown and the former All American wrestler Maynard defended it perfectly. The frustrated Miller, who was now bleeding heavily from the nose, attempted a final shot at the end of the round and ate a hard right cross that sent blood flying across the Octagon.

Maynard established a strong presence in round two as he slammed haymakers into the face of Miller. Though Miller never stopped firing back, Maynard continually blasted him with heavy punches. After yet another unsuccessful takedown attempt, Maynard wobbled Miller with a crushing overhand right.

After nearly two minutes of cat and mouse between the two fighters, Maynard went for his first takedown of the fight. The crowd went wild as Maynard hoisted Miller into the air and slammed his hard. “The Bully” shook off a submission attempt and rose to his feet.

All three judges scored the bout the same, 30-27, in favor of Gray “The Bully” Maynard.

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Undercard Results: Vera, Grove KO Opponents

Grove KO’s Day

Formermiddleweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter Kendall “Da Spyder” Grove knocked out Jason “Dooms” Day with a single right cross at 1:32 of the first round.

The opening round was fought largely in the clinch as both fighters locked up and threw short punches. Though Day was more aggressive, Grove seemed anxious to throw more heavy leather.

Using his tremendous reach advantage, “Da Spyder” timed a right cross between the hands of Day and flattened him. Referee Rick Fike stopped the contest at 1:32.

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Brilz Grinds Out a ‘W’ over Boetsch

Light heavyweight Jason Brilz continued his six year unbeaten streak by defeating Tim Boetsch by unanimous decision.

Boetsch started out strong by smashing Brilz with a hard cross and three hard uppercuts. Brilz quickly retaliated however by landing some short punches and scoring a hard takedown. After Boetsch muscled his way back to his feet, he stung his opponent once again with a heavy right uppercut.

Brilz capitalized on some inactivity in round two by scoring a takedown early. From the top position the 16-1-1 Brilz controlled his opponent and landed heavy elbows. The ground n’ pound specialist attempt a choke but couldn’t secure the hold. Boetsch regained his footing with only a minute left and failed to produce any offense.

Brilz continued his pressure attack in round three. After running into a knee, Brilz wrestled Boetsch to the floor and began to work once again with punches. The men squared off on the feet for a brief period after the men stood up, but the tenacious Brilz took his man down again. The period ended with Brilz hammering a bloodied Boetsch from the mount.

Judges’ scorecards read all read the same, 29-28, in favor of Jason “The Hitman” Brilz.

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Vera Dissects Patt; Scores TKO in Two

Former heavyweight turned light heavyweight Brandon “The Truth” Vera picked apart Mike Patt with surgically precise strikes en route to earning a second round TKO victory at 1:27.  

Vera began the round by hammering the legs of his opponent with thunderous leg kicks. The more experienced Vera appeared highly composed as he continued his striking clinic against the overmatched Patt. Following another hard leg kick, Patt dropped to the canvas clutching his leg. Vera allowed Patt to slowly regain his footing and slammed a hard southpaw left to the body.  After being hit by over a dozen brutal leg kicks, the round ended with Patt never finding his rhythm.

Vera assumed the center of the Octagon confidently to start round two. Patt dropped to the canvas after two very hard low kicks and referee Yves Lavigne prepared to stop the contest until Vera stepped away.

He wasn’t done yet.

Patt rose to his feet only to have the former heavyweight Vera slam yet another kick into his thigh. The fight was waved off at 1:27.

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Not So Sweet, “Sugar” Shane Wins in Controversial Fashion

Controversy abounded as BJ Penn protégé “Sugar” Shane Nelson needed just :44 seconds to stop Aaron Riley in the opening lightweight bout of the evening.

The experienced veteran Riley caught a kick from his younger opponent and threw him to the floor. After a scramble, Nelson returned the favor by landing a clean overhand right to the chin of his opponent.

Riley dropped immediately and appeared composed; however the fight was surprisingly stopped by the rookie referee Rick Fike in just :44 seconds. 

“It was definitely an early stoppage,” Riley said. “Everybody saw me take a whole lot worse than that. I had all my faculties about me then, and I still do.”

“Hopefully next time they’ll let us fight.”

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McCrory Stops Madigan

Welterweight Tamdan “The Barncat” McCrory stopped UFC newcomer Ryan Madigan with strikes in the first round.

McCrory controlled the first round from the top position with superior jiu jitsu. Rushing in early, “The Barncat” tripped Madigan to the floor. From the top, McCrory hammered Madigan with hard shots. Though Madigan was attempting submissions, he never had put together any substantial offense. McCrory quickly switched to the mount and finished Madigan with hard punches.

The fight was waved off at 3:35 of the first round.

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