They bang, they bang.
Former Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine prefer blowing out opponent’s jaws, noses, eye sockets and senses. Grapplers seek other work.
If you like knockouts, then watch Jackson and Jardine test each other’s chins on Saturday, March 7 at UFC 96 in Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Arena. The winner of the pay-per-view fight gets a crack at current light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans.
The fans that like mixed martial arts are varied. You can’t put them all in the same spit bucket.
First, there are the followers who prefer grappling and brute strength. Usually these are the people who were former football players and wrestlers who can appreciate the fine art of the takedown.
Next, you have fans of the submission specialists. These are the followers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo and other choke artists (in a good way) who gawk over the ability to manipulate an arm bar, leg lock or rear naked choke.
Finally, you have the fans of the clean and pure knockout where one fighter is sent unconscious with one or multiple blows to the head with jackhammer efficiency.
Jardine and Jackson are followers of the last form. They are true knockout artists.
“Quinton is one of the hardest hitters in the game,” said Jardine (14-5-1) during a telephone conference call. “You can’t really prepare for that.”
Jackson, who’s not known for giving opponents credit for their fighting prowess, said Jardine is dangerous.
“I think Keith is an excellent fighter,” said Jackson (29-7) who trained mostly in England for this coming match. “He’s got big wins and big losses.”
Jardine walks around with that long beard and down home kind of humility. Most people that meet the Dean of Mean walk away with a sense of friendliness from the New Mexico-based fighter. He’s not that way in the Octagon.
Despite a loss to Wanderlie Silva last year and Houston Alexander in 2007, Jardine has beat UFC champions Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell and Forrest Griffin. In his last fight in October he beat highly touted Brandon Vera. He’s always one punch away from victory.
“They (people) expect me to put on a good show but they don’t expect me to win,” Jardine confesses. “I’m probably the third person to ask to the prom.”
In the world of MMA the best know the best. Though Jackson fought most of his career in Japan and he doesn’t watch video footage of other fighters, he’s attended enough events stateside to know the bald New Mexican fighter hits hard.
Jackson is working his way back to the title after losing it to Griffin last year, though he was a heavy favorite. The road back to the light heavyweight title goes through Jardine.
“After my performance with Forrest I’ve been so ashamed of myself,” admits Jackson who lost by decision to Griffin in July 2008. “To think that I thought that fight was going to be easy.”
Jackson knows Jardine.
If Jackson wins he gets the champ Evans. If Jardine wins, well, he can get the champ... but don’t expect it to happen. They’re good friends.
Still, both Jardine and Jackson want to win in these economically distraught times.
“We’re lucky we’re not digging ditches,” Jardine says.
“I have mouths to feed,” Jackson says abruptly.
Both MMA fighters also expect the clash to be just as abrupt.
“I like Keith’s style,” says Jackson. “He likes to bang. He can fight.”
Brazil’s Gabriel Gonzaga (10-3) takes on undefeated Shane Corwin (10-0) of Colorado in a heavyweight bout; Matt “The Hammer” Hamill (7-2) faces undefeated Mark Munoz (5-0) of Sacramento in a light heavyweight fight; Gray “The Bully” Maynard (7-0-1) of Las Vegas matches up with Jim Miller (13-1) New Jersey in a lightweight contest. There are additional bouts.