UFC 96 Predictions

UFC 96 Predictions

UFC 96 Predictions
by T.O. Whenham

It's time for yet another UFC event. The card, headlined by a light heavyweight tilt between Keith Jardine and Quinton Jackson, takes place on Saturday, March 7 in Columbus, Ohio. To get you ready for the event, here's a preview and some predictions. We're on a hot streak with the picks over the last two events, so here's hoping it can continue (odds are from Bodog):

Quinton Jackson (-325) vs. Keith Jardine (+250) - Before his last time out we couldn't be sure if Rampage Jackson could be trusted mentally. He had, after all, had an epic meltdown after losing his title to Forrest Griffin last year. Jackson quickly eased any fears, though, when he demolished Wanderlei Silva. He'll be ready. Jardine is harder to figure out. In his last five fights he has three wins, and they are impressive - Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, and Brandon Vera. The problem is that his two losses - against Wanderlei Silva and Houston Alexander - were ugly. That makes Jardine a very tough guy to trust. Thankfully, I'm not sure that it is going to matter which Jardine shows up. This fight is likely to turn into a slugfest, because both guys prefer to keep it on their feet. Unless Jackson doesn't show up, that gives him the edge. He has very heavy hands, and I expect an early knockout.

Pick: Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson

Gabriel Gonzaga (-155) vs. Shane Carwin (+125) - Carwin is undefeated in 10 fights, and all wins have been by stoppage. He's generally a wrestler, but he punches very well when he has to. He's talented, but this is just his third UFC bout and is a major step up in class for him. Gonzaga has won 10 of his 13 matches, and none have gone the distance. Carwin has a size advantage and is a better wrestler, but Gonzaga has a pretty clear edge as long as they are standing up. That means that the style of fight will be the key. It's a toss-up, and it seems closer in my mind than the odds indicate. That means that there is some value in backing the more than capable underdog.

Pick: Shane Carwin

Pete Sell (-155) vs. Matt Brown (+125) - I don't understand the odds here. Neither of these Brazilian jiu jitsu specialists has had a huge impact in the UFC, and neither has a particularly bright future. Brown has shown more form in his recent fights, and he is fighting in his home state. That combines to make an attractive underdog.

Pick: Matt Brown

Matt Hamill (-170) vs. Mark Munoz (+140) - Munoz is undefeated in five fights, but he will be making his UFC debut in this fight. Like Hamill, he is a very good wrestler and an above average striker. I expect him to be reasonably successful in the UFC, but it won't start here. Making his debut on a PPV event is sure to have him nervous. Hamill is more experienced, and he will be fired up by fighting in his home state, so he should be able to exploit any weakness that Munoz exhibits.

Pick: Matt Hamill

Gray Maynard (-185) vs. Jim Miller (+155) - Maynard is unbeaten in six fights, including four in the UFC. He has a strong wrestling background, and is generally comfortable when he is standing up. Miller has lost just once in 14 fights, and he has 10 submissions. Miller can clearly hold his own, especially on the ground, but he's at a significant disadvantage here. Maynard is a better fighter, and he is set up well to succeed here.

Pick: Gray Maynard

Tamdan McCrory (-325) vs. Ryan Madigan (+250) - McCrory has a 2-2 record in the UFC. That's not particularly impressive, but the experience is important. Madigan is a UFC rookie. It takes an exceptional fighter to win in their debut given the pressure of the experience. There are no signs that Madigan is an exceptional fighter.

Pick: Tamdan McCrory

Kendall Grove (-200) vs. Jason Day (+160) - Grove has had two losses and a split decision in his last three fights. He looked strong before that, but he isn't exactly riding a wave of momentum. Day has only had two UFC fights, and he has to come back here from a tough loss to Michael Bisping. Both guys are decent submission fighters, and both are good strikers. Day, in particular, has been making progress on the striking front. Day is a legitimate underdog in this case, and well worth consideration at this price.

Pick: Jason Day

Tim Boetsch (-140) vs. Jason Brilz (+110) - Brilz has won 16 of his 18 career fights, and he is coming off a win in his UFC debut. Only two of his 16 wins have gone the distance. It's an impressive record, but he is facing one of his tougher opponents to date. Boetsch can match Brilz with wrestling skills, and he's far more ferocious with his fists. That gives him an overall edge.

Pick: Tim Boetsch

Brandon Vera (-550) vs. Michael Patt (+350) - This one is about as close as the price indicates. Vera is 5-3 in the UFC, and is generally well regarded. Patt lost his UFC debut and probably won't last through another loss. Vera is significantly better on his feet, and he should be able to keep it there.

Pick: Brandon Vera

Aaron Riley (-215) vs. Shane Nelson (+175) - Riley has more fights overall, and more in the UFC. That experience edge explains the difference in price. I'm not sure that it is warranted, though. Nelson has an edge in BJJ skills, and a real edge if the fighters leave their feet. At the very least, he is definitely worth a shot at this price.

Pick: Shane Nelson

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Re: UFC 96 Predictions

Jackson-Jardine set to collide
By Brad Young

The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Columbus, Ohio for the third consecutive year coinciding with the annual Arnold Classic. While the bodybuilding competition has been associated with central Ohio since the 1980’s, the UFC is quickly becoming a staple to this weekend.

UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine features Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson (29-7) and Keith ‘The Dean of Mean’ Jardine (14-5-1) in the March 7th main event at Nationwide Arena. This matchup will help clear up the light heavyweight division, with a probable title shot for Jackson should he win.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants installed ‘Rampage’ as a $3.30 ‘chalk’ (bet $330 to win $100), while Jardine is listed as the $2.50 underdog (bet $100 to win $250).

Jackson rebounded from losing his title last summer by knocking out nemesis Wanderlei ‘The Axe Murderer’ Silva at UFC 92 in December. With Forrest Griffin still out with a broken hand, Jackson figures get a shot at champion ‘Sugar’ Rashad Evans if he can get past Jardine. The Wolfslair Academy fighter has 14 knockout victories, seven wins by submission along with eight decisions.

Jardine will move up the light heavyweight standings with a victory over Jackson, but contender Lyoto ‘The Dragon’ Machida would probably get the next shot at Evans. Machida is a methodical fighter that isn’t as exciting as Jackson, meaning he will get passed over once again if ‘Rampage’ prevails in Ohio.

Jardine is also out of the immediate title picture for a couple of reasons. First is the fact that him and Evans are friends and train out of Greg Jackson’s gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The two friends have stated that they will train together, but never fight one another.

However, the biggest reason why Jardine is out of the title picture is because of a couple of his losses. ‘The Dean of Mean’ does have headline grabbing victories over such upper echelon light heavyweights as Forrest Griffin, Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell and Brandon Vera, but has suffered two devastating losses.

Jardine was on the wrong side of brutal first-round beatdowns to Houston Alexander and Wanderlei Silva. Those two losses lasted a combined 1:24. Six of his victories have occurred by KO, two wins by submission and six decisions, while he has suffered three first-round knockouts and one setback by decision.

There is also an intriguing heavyweight matchup on the UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine card at Nationwide Arena.

The Gabriel ‘Napao’ Gonzaga-Shane Carwin contest is interesting on a couple of levels. Gonzaga (10-3) is best known for his head-kick knockout victory over Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ at UFC 70. The Brazilian then got a shot at then heavyweight champion Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture before losing by second-round knockout.

Gonzaga followed that setback by losing to fellow countryman Fabricio Werdum before winning his next two fights in the first round. ‘Napao’ submitted Justin McCully with a Kimura at UFC 86, and knocked out Josh Hendricks at UFC 91.

Now he faces a tough task against an up-and-coming fighter.

Carwin (10-0) is taking a major step up in competition with this matchup. The 34-year-old has never gone to the second round in his professional career, winning five times by knockout and five times by submission.

The Colorado native knocked out Christian Wellisch at UFC 84 just 44 seconds into the fight, while going 1:31 before knocking out Neil Wain at UFC 89. Carwin has devastating power, but his cardio is in question because he’s never gone to the second round.

The winner of this contest figures to move to the outer echelon of the heavyweight title picture. Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar will unify the title during their May matchup, with Couture and Antonio Rodrigo ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira slated to fight sometime this summer.

LVSC opened Gonzaga as a $1.80 favorite to win this fight over Carwin, the $1.50 underdog.

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Re: UFC 96 Predictions

Rampage's comeback hits Jardine at UFC 96
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

Keith Jardine knows he wasn't the first choice to fight Quinton Jackson at UFC 96. Even if he upsets the resurgent fighter known as Rampage, Jardine doesn't want any part of the UFC's probable choice for his next bout, either.

Yet don't expect to see any reluctance or disenchantment reflected in Jardine's fighting in Columbus, Ohio, where two top light heavyweights will meet in front of a testosterone-saturated sellout crowd.

Books have tagged Jackson as a -325 favorite while Jardine is priced at +225.

Thousands of high school wrestlers and professional bodybuilders in town for a convention will see a card brimming with competitive bouts, even if the main event has a wealth of fascinating subplots outside the ring.

Jardine (14-5-1) is the final obstacle before Jackson's presumed path to another title shot, even if Jardine believes he's ''probably the third person asked to the prom on this one.''

''I got a call, and I couldn't turn it down,'' said Jardine, the resilient 33-year-old who has beaten Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, but still lost three of his last seven fights. ''I was excited, but they just think they're going to get a good fight from me. I like to strike, I've never been in a boring fight, and they're just throwing me out there and they expect me to put on a good show, but they don't expect me to win.''

If Jackson (29-7) wins, UFC president Dana White says he'll get a title shot against Rashad Evans, who won the light heavyweight crown last year by beating Griffin, the man who took it from Jackson last summer.

Think that's complicated? If Jardine pulls the upset, he probably would have a chance for his first title shot - only he doesn't want it if it's against Evans, his longtime friend and training partner.

''Me and Rashad, we've always talked about that, and there's no way that we're going to fight afterwards,'' Jardine said. ''That's why people love this sport, is because we're not businessmen. We're not like NFL players. They're trying to stay healthy and get a paycheck. We fight with all of our heart and our soul, and how are you going to go out there and give the audience what they deserve when you're fighting one of your best friends? That is just not going to happen.''

Nonsense, says White. The UFC president has heard such protestations before from fighters who train in the same dojo or gym, and he doesn't believe a friendship can stand in the way of the money and pride at stake with a UFC title.

''I promise you they will fight each other if they keep winning,'' White told The Associated Press. ''This isn't basketball. This isn't the NBA. There's no teams in this sport. These are fighters. What if Rashad holds the belt for the next three years? Is Keith just never going to take a shot at the title for the rest of his life? I don't think they're that good of friends. It's just a little game they're playing with themselves.''

None of it will matter if Jardine can't upset Jackson. Although Rampage is a solid favorite, Jardine's unorthodox standup style and strong leg kicks present challenges that have troubled the former champion in the past.

''I'm really happy if people think that I have a kick-defense problem,'' Jackson said. ''I've been working on everything.''

Jackson's roller-coaster career seems headed to another peak after his demolition of Wanderlei Silva in December, less than six months after his loss to Griffin was followed by his arrest after leading police on a chase in Costa Mesa, Calif. Jackson changed his life after the incident, embarking on the most serious training of his career in England, and has stuck to the regimen since beating Silva.

The UFC probably would have loved to match Jackson with Evans in Columbus, but Evans needed more time off after beating Griffin. Jackson wants to keep his momentum going - and he freely admits he needs the money - so he signed up to take on Jardine in what he hopes will be a bridge to a summer title shot.

''After my performance with Forrest, I've been so ashamed of myself,'' Jackson said. ''Every fight, I'm motivated to go out there and look good and win, because I know what type of fighter I am. I was really disappointed in myself for letting it (get) to that point where I'm not motivated, and I get it in my head that all of these guys are easy.

''There's no more easy fights. I'm motivated to train hard every time.''

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Re: UFC 96 Predictions

Jardine not in Rampage’s league
By BETONLINE.COM

UFC 96 betting is part of the “tweener phases” that hit UFC a couple times a year, during which no titles are on the line but some major shuffling happens among the contenders. Online betting fans will watch intently in the Jackson vs Jardine odds as Quinton “Rampage Jackson” (29-7) and Keith Jardine (14-5-1) jockey for position near the top of the light heavyweight ladder.

Jackson is a -300 sportsbook favorite, and for good reason. The former UFC heavyweight champion has tangled with the best fighters in MMA betting and has beaten the likes of Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell (twice) and, most recently, Wanderlei Silva in a vicious first-round knockout. He’s the total package, with strong wrestling, a solid (though not infallible) chin and legitimate knockout power.

Jardine, a +240 underdog, can’t be taken lightly in the Jackson vs Jardine odds. Though his most recent losses tend to stand out, as they were one-sided beatings at the hands of Wanderlei Silva and Houston Alexander, Jardine also has impressive recent wins against Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell. Online betting fans should remember that Jardine has beaten several fighters with similar styles to Rampage – fighters who tend to hang back and counterpunch. Jardine capitalizes on less aggressive fighters and sets up his leg kicks.

Still, Rampage – at his current level – may be the toughest competition Jardine has ever faced. Jardine really struggles to knock people out, so how will he hurt Rampage, who also has the ground advantage? Jardine’s only hope is to score points on strikes. Rampage, a more cerebral fighter than he gets credit for because of his playful demeanor outside the octagon, will be prepared for Jardine.

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Re: UFC 96 Predictions

Jardine aims to slow down Rampage
By BETONLINE.COM

UFC 96 betting players are in for an exciting card this Saturday night in Columbus, OH, as sportsbook odds have made Quentin Jackson the favorite in his main-event bout against Keith Jardine.  Those who bet sports know that Jardine will be no pushover for the man they call “Rampage”.

UFC 96 Betting – Saturday, March 7, 7:00 PM ET

Rampage vs Jardine odds have Jackson (29-7) as a -300 favorite in this light-heavyweight bout, and after he lost the light-heavyweight belt to Forrest Griffin in UFC 86, Jackson was arrested and detained to a mental health institution due to depression. But “Rampage” recovered in a big way at UFC 96, as he knocked out Wanderlei Silva, who beat Jackson twice while the two were in Pride. A win in this contest would put him one step closer to regaining his belt, currently held by Rashad Evans.

Jardine (14-4-1) has proven to be a tough opponent since joining UFC in 2005, as he has beaten the likes of Griffin, Chick Liddell and Brandon Vera in his last five fights, but he’s also lost to Wanderlei Silva and Houston Alexander. His last two wins have come by split decision, and he probably needs a decisive victory to be considered in the light-heavyweight title conversation. Jardine is a +240 UFC 96 betting underdog this weekend.

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