On March 7, 2009, the UFC will return once again to the Midwest. The Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH will host the event and fans can expect an action packed night as some of the organization’s heavy hitters look to step into the Octagon.
The main event of the night pits the former light heavyweight champion, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson against “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine. Jackson, 29 – 7, looks to get back into title contention and follow up his previous fight where he knocked out Wanderlei Silva. His opponent Keith Jardine is also jockeying for position amongst the light heavyweight ranks. His 14 – 5 – 1 record boasts victories against Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddel, and Brandon Vera. I’ve seen both fighters fight and while both are tough and like to drop bombs I’d have to say I would give the advantage to “Rampage”. I think he is more powerful, is coming off a great win, and is hungry to get his belt back, while Jardine just doesn’t seem to be consistent match after match. Sure “Rampage” isn’t the same bad ass that he was before coaching on TUF and then losing to Forrest, but he has got the potential to get back there. My prediction is that “Rampage” wins via TKO.
The heavyweight match on the card is Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga and Shane Corwin. Shane Corwin is a WEC vet with a 10 – 0 record who looks to make is UFC debut against a submissions and striking beast. Gonzaga has wins against Josh Hendricks, Justin McCully, and who could forget his devastating knock out of Mirco Cro Cop. I expect that this fight will be one of the best that night and would imagine that both fighters will try to keep it standing and go for the knock out. It’s a close call on who will win this fight, but I’m going to predict that Gonzaga will edge out Corwin and take home the decision.
Also on the card that night is Matt “The Hammer” Hamill vs Mark “The Philippine Wrecking Machine” Munoz. Munoz is a WEC vet who boasts knock outs against Ricardo Barros and Chuck Grigsby. He is a former Oklahoma State wrestler and Division 1 National Champ. Standing opposite the cage of “The Philippine Wrecking Machine” will be Matt “The Hammer” Hamill. Hamill who is also a world class wrestler, has a 7 – 2 record with wins over Reese Andy and Tim Boetsch. This will be a pretty interesting match up with both fighters having a wrestling background. Hamill also trains in boxing while Munoz trains in muay thai. I have seen a couple of Hamill’s fights and haven’t been impressed with his striking so for this fight I am going to take Mark Munoz for the win. My prediction is that Munoz is going to be the better striker so I feel that he will win via TKO.
Rounding out the main card is match ups between Gray “The Bully” Maynard vs Jim Miller and Pete “Drago” Sell vs Matt “The Immortal” Brown. While I’m sure these fights will be interesting enough they aren’t marquee match ups. I have seen Maynard fight both on the TUF reality show and in a couple of UFC events. He is a good fighter, is currently on a 4 match winning streak, and holds a 7 – 0 record. I haven’t seen Miller fight before so I really don’t know much about him. So for this fight I am going to go out on a limb and take Gray Maynard via unanimous decision. The final fight versus Sell and Brown is one I wouldn’t consider worthy of a UFC main card. Neither fighter holds impressive records or has beaten anyone of importance. I’m actually surprised that “Drago” hasn’t been let go from the UFC since he has lost 4 of his last 5 fights. The only reason I am going to pick Matt Brown to win this match up is because he will be fighting in front of his home crowd so I feel he will have a slight advantage. My prediction for this fight is Brown beats Sell by split decision.
So this March get your friends together and make sure you are parked in front of a television for UFC 96 Jackson vs Jardine. You don’t want to wake up Sunday morning and have to find out second hand how the fights went down.