(A face only Greg Jackson could love. Courtesy of Combat Lifestyle’s UFC 96 press conference gallery.)
It’s debatin’ time again. With one day to go before UFC 96 rocks Columbus, Ohio, we’re talking title shots, Hall of Fame inductees, and more in this edition of Ben vs. Ben.
Given Jardine’s track record for spoiling the UFC’s best-laid plans, what are his chances to upset Rampage Jackson and force a Machida-Evans title fight?
BG: Unless Greg Jackson’s gameplan for Keith Jardine is “change everything about your standup game,” the Dean of Mean is in deep shit. Sure, Jardine has been a notable spoiler for Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell, but he’s just as well-known for being eaten alive by the heavy-handed onslaughts of Houston Alexander and Wanderlei Silva, thanks in large part to his often-shaky striking defense. Jardine may be able to outmaneuver a measured counter-puncher, but if Jackson comes out slugging, he’s done for.
Not to say that Rampage is going to be a wild man from the opening bell. Against Wanderlei Silva in December, he took the first half of the first round at a slow pace, settling in and finding his range. (And then he found it, and boom went the dynamite.) But there’s a difference between the patient knockout artist that Jackson was at UFC 94, and the tentative, off-peak, troubled Rampage we saw against Forrest Griffin at UFC 86. Jardine could have probably won a decision over that Rampage via leg kicks. Unfortunately, a 100% healthy and focused Quinton Jackson would likely outbox Jardine into unconsciousness, sometime after the first round. QJ wins this one four out of five times. Machida’s title shot will come at the end of this year, at the earliest.
BF: First of all, QJ? Man walks around with a perfectly good nickname like “Rampage” and here you are calling him QJ? There’s just no excuse for that.