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The main event of UFC 96 features former champion Quinton Jackson against Ultimate Fighter alum Keith Jardine. It's an interesting matchup, as each fighter has displayed skills which could exploit the vulnerabilities of the other.
Jackson lost his light heavyweight title two fights ago at UFC 86, getting outworked over five rounds by Forrest Griffin. Although Jackson was the more efficient fighter, landing 49% of his strikes to Griffin's 33%, he was ultimately outlanded 145 to 84 in total strikes. A huge factor in this result was round two, when Griffin landed 46 strikes to none for Jackson after Griffin stunned Jackson with a leg kick. Griffin's higher work rate and ability to avoid or absorb Jackson's more powerful shots carried him to a decision win.
Not only has Jardine successfully employed leg kicks in a winning effort (notably in his decision win over all-time great Chuck Liddell), his high work rate helped him win the day against Brandon Vera in his most recent match. Jardine threw 51 more total strikes than Vera (163 to 112), outlanding his opponent in two of the three rounds.
To Jardine's disadvantage, he was hit by 54% of Brandon Vera's strike attempts. Jardine's somewhat porous defense has cost him dearly in devastating KO losses, most recently to Houston Alexander and a 36 second demolition at the hands of Wanderlei Silva.
Although Jackson has also been stopped twice by Silva, his most recent fight earned him a measure of revenge against the Brasilian. In the abbreviated encounter Jackson landed 67% of his strikes to Silva's 45% before knocking out the former Pride champ with a devastating left hook.
Although Jardine has shown admirable grit, outworking opponents in grueling decision victories, his work rate will not be enough to offset his tendency to be outlanded and a vulnerable chin. Jackson's efficiency and power have been impressive and ought to be enough for him to break through versus Jardine's awkward style.
Prediction: KO win for Jackson in the early to middle rounds.