Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton
“Rampage” Jackson will lock horns with Keith
Jardine in a showdown pairing two top 10 fighters at UFC 96 on
March 7 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The UFC
announced the matchup -- which adds some much-needed star power to
the show -- on Saturday.
The bout comes as a bit of a surprise since many see Jackson as the
No. 1 contender for Rashad
Evans’ UFC light heavyweight crown.
Affiliated with the Wolfslair Academy, the 30-year-old Jackson
(29-7) has posted seven wins in eight fights, a disputed decision
loss to Forrest
Griffin at UFC 86 the lone blemish. He knocked out longtime
Silva at UFC 92 in December, launching himself back into title
contention. Earlier this month, Jackson pleaded guilty to felony
and misdemeanor charges associated with a high-speed chase that
ended in his arrest in July; the plea deal will likely allow him to
avoid jail time.
Jardine (14-4-1), based out of Jackson’s Submission Fighting in
Albuquerque, N.M., last fought at UFC 89 in October, when he earned
a split decision against Brandon
Vera. He also holds victories against former UFC light
heavyweight champions Griffin and Chuck
Liddell. The 33-year-old former bounty hunter staked his claim
in the 205-pound division with an unorthodox style and vicious leg
and body kicks.