Quinton Jackson (left) crept closer to title contention at UFC 130. | (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
It lacked the spectacle and finality fans have come to demand, but Quinton Jackson turned away “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 alum Matt Hamill in a performance that can only be described as clinical and efficient.
Jackson was measured but violent with his attack, as he swept the scorecards in the UFC 130 main event on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The victory kept him on the 205-pound title contention carousel, along with fellow former champions Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans. Now 7-2 inside the Octagon, Jackson has rattled off back-to-back wins since his unanimous decision defeat to Evans at UFC 114. What comes next for “Rampage” depends largely on how forthcoming matchups unfold.
A closer look at the matches we want to see after UFC 130 “Rampage vs. Hamill” follows:
Quinton Jackson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua-Forrest Griffin winner: The soon-to-be 33-year-old Jackson appears to have the desire and wherewithal to make one more run at the 205-pound crown. The Memphis, Tenn., native excelled against Hamill, especially with his takedown defense. According to FightMetric figures, Hamill tried 17 takedowns in the 15-minute bout; not one of them was successful. Few in the light heavyweight division can match Jackson’s boxing chops and one-punch knockout power, so Hamill was all but hopeless standing. Rua and Griffin, both of whom have defeated Jackson, will lock horns in the UFC 134 “Rio” co-main event in August. Would he not welcome a rematch with the winner, perhaps in a number one contender match late in 2011?
Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira-Brendan Schaub winner: Mir walked right through Roy Nelson in the UFC 130 co-main event, outstriking, outwrestling and out-grappling “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner over three one-sided rounds. Mir fed the beefy Nelson a steady diet of knees from the clinch, along with takedowns and ground-and-pound, in what may go down as the most complete performance of his career. Clearly still a major player in the heavyweight division, Mir figures to seek out another top contender in the months ahead. Nogueira has pined for a rematch between the two since Mir throttled him at UFC 92. Nelson has also indicated an interest in matching wits with Mir. Nogueira and Schaub will settle their own score in a pivotal showdown at UFC 134 this summer.
Brian Stann vs. Demian Maia-Mark Munoz winner: Stann’s union with super trainer Greg Jackson has paid enormous dividends in a very short period of time. Now a viable title contender at 185 pounds, the decorated Marine stopped onetime Sengoku Raiden Championship titleholder Jorge Santiago in the second round at UFC 130, utilizing a crackling counter right hand and brutal follow-up punches for the finish.
Natural punching power and ever improving peripheral skills make Stann a threat to almost anyone in the middleweight division. Maybe Wanderlei Silva was wise in turning down a fight with him. With that said, Stann can no longer be overlooked. The Maia-Munoz winner at UFC 131 could serve as an intriguing style clash for Stann: Maia the submission wizard and Munoz the brutish former NCAA wrestling champion.
Rick Story vs. Carlos Condit-Dong Hyun Kim winner: Some wondered whether or not Story had the goods needed to compete with upper-tier welterweights. He put those doubts to rest with his unanimous decision victory over former title contender Thiago Alves at UFC 130. Story showed off his stout chin, solid boxing and Couturesque clinch-and-takedown game, as he short-circuited the explosive Brazilian for much of their three-round duel. Improving with each outing, Story has put himself in position to call out more of the elite at 170 pounds. Condit, the well-rounded former WEC champion, will meet Kim, the rugged South Korean judoka, at UFC 132 in July. Story may await the winner, an impressive six-fight winning streak in tow.
Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez-Eddie Wineland winner: Johnson exited the Octagon at UFC 130 with a controversial unanimous decision win over former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres under his belt. The 5-foot-3 Matt Hume protégé scored with takedowns and fought effectively on his feet, but he spent much of his time working out of danger inside Torres’ spidery and hyperactive guard. “Mighty Mouse” even had to escape mount in the third round. Nevertheless, the victory strengthens his case at 135 pounds. Benavidez, like Johnson a natural 125-pounder, fought for the WEC bantamweight crown less than a year ago. Should the Team Alpha Male standout pass the test Wineland figures to put to him at UFC Live 5 in August, might it set up a showdown with the speedy Johnson? Imagine the fireworks.