Jackson, Jardine Cleared for UFC 96

By Sherdog.com Staff Mar 7, 2009
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Keith Jardine have cleared their final hurdle and will meet at UFC 96 “Jackson vs. Jardine” in Saturday’s main event at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

The striking-savvy light heavyweight pair had no issues on Friday at UFC 96’s official weigh-ins. Jackson, wearing colorful Lucky Charms-themed underwear, weighed in at 205 pounds, while Jardine was 204 pounds. All other 18 competitors hit their marks on their first attempts as well.

Saturday’s bout is the second stop in Jackson’s campaign to reclaim the 205-pound title, and all signs point to a championship showdown with UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans –- most likely at UFC 100 in July –- if Jackson gets past Jardine.

One the UFC’s gem attractions, the outspoken Jackson’s personal life took a tailspin when he was arrested for a hit-and-run police chase through the streets of Newport Beach, Calif., last July. The highly publicized event came one week after Jackson, 30, dropped his title to Forrest Griffin via a unanimous decision at UFC 86.

Jackson, who was temporarily held for mental observation, pleaded guilty to reduced charges of one felony count of evading a peace officer and driving against traffic and one misdemeanor count of driving recklessly in January. Jackson eluded jail time.

The animated Memphis native has since decided to relegate his drama to the cage. Under new direction from the England-based Wolfslair Academy, the Jackson of old re-emerged to knock out Wanderlei Silva in the first round at UFC 92 last December –- sweet revenge for two brutal losses against the Brazilian for Pride Fighting Championships in Japan.

Known as the ultimate spoiler to many ill-fated UFC plans, Jardine (14-4-1) has risen above the likes of former champions Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, but has also been susceptible to knockout losses at the hands of Wanderlei Silva and Houston Alexander. Jardine earned a split decision over Brandon Vera in his last appearance at UFC 89 in October.

If Jardine is victorious over Jackson, the Greg Jackson-trained fighter will not be handed the next title shot against his teammate Evans, UFC President Dana White told the press this week. Instead, undefeated Lyoto Machida would slide into the slot.

Jardine didn’t seem distracted by the news.

“Two guys are going to try and claim the center of the Octagon,” said Jardine at the weigh-ins. “One guy’s gonna last, one guy’s not.”

In a featured heavyweight matchup, undefeated Shane Carwin (10-0) tipped the scale at 259.5 pounds. The 24-year-old Carwin is leaping up in competition against Gabriel Gonzaga (10-3), in his ninth trip to the Octagon. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt weighed in at 257.5 pounds.

UFC 96 Official Weigh-in Results

Quinton Jackson (205) vs. Keith Jardine (204)
Gabriel Gonzaga (257.5) vs. Shane Carwin (259.5)
Matt Hamill (205) vs. Mark Munoz (204.5)
Pete Sell (170) vs. Matt Brown (170.5)
Gray Maynard (155) vs. Jim Miller (154.5)
Tamdan McCrory (170) vs. Ryan Madigan (169)
Kendall Grove (185) vs. Jason Day (184.5)
Tim Boetsch (205) vs. Jason Brilz (204)
Brandon Vera (205) vs. Michael Patt (204.5)
Aaron Riley (155) vs. Shane Nelson (155)
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>