Rampage, coming off a devastating knockout win over long time nemesis Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92, looks to add another impressive name to his already stellar list of defeated opponents.
A win over Jardine will guarantee Rampage a title shot against current champ, Rashad Evans. Jardine has other plans however. Coming off a very impressive win over Brandon Vera, also on the 96 card, Jardine is looking to plant his feet firmly on the ground and establish himself as a rightful contender for the belt.
He hasn’t had the most consistent time in the UFC though going 2-2 in the last two years with both of those loses being brutal, fast knock outs.
Come Saturday night, Rampage will be looking to follow Houston Alexander and Wanderlei Silva’s leads and target the somewhat fragile chin of Jardine. But that is easier said than done as the Albuquerque native is far from a walk in the park, as he proved against former champions Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin.
Rampage, who comes from a background of wrestling, has done a great job of turning himself into an all around fighter throughout the years. His boxing has become some of the best in the sport along with his wrestling.
This showed when he managed to out wrestle two Olympians in Dan Henderson and Matt Lindland, and knock out the most dominant LHW champion in Chuck Liddell in their second meeting.
He has proved he can fight a long drawn out war evident in two of his championship fights, or he can end it quickly and brutally as he showed in his last outing.
Keith Jardine on the other hand is someone who loves to be in a war. His style is gritty, exhausting and relentless. If Jardine is allowed to find his rhythm against Rampage it could end up being a long night for him.
Jardine who trains with some of the best in the world, including Welterweight Champion Georges St Pierre, Light Heavy weight Champion Rashad Evans and Middle Weight contender Nate Marquardt under Greg Jackson, is a master of leg kicks. And it just so happens Rampage Jackson’s downfall is his inability to defend them.
Jardine according to UFC stats throws the most leg kicks with the most success. This distinct advantage along with Jardine’s never give up attitude and ability to consistently put pressure on his opponent will indeed prove pivotal in this fight.
What it will come down to on Saturday, is if Rampage is able to fight his fight, an intelligent one. It is certainly his for the taking. He has the skills, unlike Jardine to end the fight at anytime and use his wrestling to dictate where he wishes the fight to take place.
If Jardine can find a home, consistently, for his leg kicks, it could end up coming down to a very close judge’s decision. One thing is for sure however, this will be an exciting fight.
Co-Headlining the Card at UFC 96 is a heavyweight matchup between Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga, 10-3, and Shane Carwin, 10-0. Like the main event, this fight will change the landscape of the division and the winner may be awarded a title shot down the line.
Gonzaga, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt fight out of Rio de Janeiro via Massachusetts holds a notable win over veteran Mirko Cro Cop whom he knocked out in the biggest upset in UFC history with a head kick. Gonzaga is coming of two impressive wins after having dropped two defeats to high calibre opponents.
His world-class Jiu-Jitsu background along with his heavy power makes him a nightmare matchup for anyone in the division.
The undefeated Carwin on the other hand, is somewhat of an unknown. At 34 years of age, the former college wrestler has only been fighting professionally since 2005. At 265 pounds he is a beast of a man.
Much like current Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, he has to cut weight to make the limit so on fight night he weighs around the 275/280-pound mark, a scary thought. There has been a common theme in the big man’s fights, they all end fast and in similar fashion, with him ground and pounding his opponent until the referee steps in.
The advantage coming into the fight goes to Gonzaga who has clearly faced the better opponents and will therefore have considerably more experience. Carwin however, with his athletic ability and brute strength will allow him to control Gonzaga on the mat.
This may not be the best idea as Gonzaga being a world champion in Jiu-Jitsu can submit him from any position. Carwin will stand his best chance on the feet, where, if he connects, will put Gonzaga to sleep.
With both fighters having never gone the distant, one thing is for sure, you are best off not blinking in this one.
The full card is as follows:
- Quinton Jackson vs. Keith Jardine
- Matt Hamill vs. Mark Munoz
- Matt Brown vs. Pete Sell
- Shane Carwin vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
- Gray Maynard vs. Jim Miller
- Ryan Madigan vs. Tamdan McCrory
- Jason Day vs. Kendall Grove
- Tim Boetsch vs. Jason Brilz
- Mike Patt vs. Brandon Vera
- Shane Nelson vs. Aaron Riley
Live coverage begins at 3 PM on Setanta Sports 1.
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