"Rampage" foes advise Jardine
Marvin Eastman -- who fought Quinton “Rampage” Jackson twice, beating him once -- has some battle-tested advice for Keith Jardine, the man who will square off against Jackson in the main event at UFC 96 “Jackson vs. Jardine” on Saturday at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio:
Don’t sit back a la Chuck Liddell and wait for the powerful, hard-hitting Jackson (29-7) to come to you. That did not work for Liddell -- who got drubbed by Jackson at UFC 71 in 2007 -- and it will not work for you. Take the fight to him, right from the get-go. Aggressively swarm him and throw everything you have -- punches, kicks, elbows, takedowns. That’s your best chance of winning … your only chance of winning.
“To beat Quinton you got to overwhelm him,” says Eastman, who won a unanimous decision over Jackson in the former UFC light heavyweight champion’s professional debut at King of the Cage 4 back in 2000. “His jaw is granite, like an anvil, man. The first time I fought him, I attacked him, I attacked him, I attacked him -- a la ‘Shogun’ versus Quinton.”
Eastman points to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s brutal knockout victory against Jackson at Pride “Total Elimination 2005” as the blueprint.
“It’s gotta just be an onslaught,” says Eastman, who was stopped by Jackson in their rematch at UFC 67 two years ago -- one of 14 career knockout or technical knockout wins Rampage has wracked up. “You can’t sit back and wait. You’ve got to be like … what [do] you call it? … a Tasmanian devil. Then he becomes a fighter that is very, very beatable.”
Oddsmakers have Jackson, 30 -- ranked as the No. 3 light heavyweight in the world -- as a favorite over Jardine, 33, and ranked seventh. Though he has knockout capability of his own, Jardine does not have the quickest hands in the game, Eastman noted, so he may not be able to swarm Jackson.
“Keeping it real,” Eastman says, “Jardine is a slower cat.”Jardine needs to stay away from Jackson's power.
On the plus side for Jardine, according to Eastman, his unorthodox, herky-jerky fighting style makes him “a difficult fighter to fight simply because he’s so awkward. But Quinton’s fought every type of fighter, so I don’t anticipate him really having a difficulty with that style, a la [Matt] Lindland,” who lost a split decision to Jackson at World Fighting Alliance “King of the Streets” in 2006.
Lindland, a man of considerable fewer words than Eastman, remains unsure as to whether or not Jardine stacks up well against Jackson.
“I don’t know if this is the best match up for Jardine,” Lindland says. “The mistake I made in the match I fought against Quinton, although I’m pretty confident I still won two out of the three rounds, I think is when I went for the choke slam and I had my back against the cage. I should have circled off first. So I think the advice would be if you get your back against the cage, to circle off the fence.”
Does the 2000 Olympic silver medalist offer any other advice for Jardine?
“Stay away from that big right hand of Quinton’s,” Lindland says. “He hits hard.”
Greg Jackson, one of Jardine’s two main trainers at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, N.M., agrees.
“You know Quinton is a real hard puncher, so we’re looking not to get punched,” Jackson says when asked about Jardine’s gameplan. “We take Quinton very seriously, and Keith has trained real hard for this camp. Hopefully, it will be a good night for us.”
He indicated Jardine will be completely healthy going into the fight.
“Keith is a really, really smart fighter and mentally tough, which are two great assets to have as a fighter,” Jackson says. “He has a real cool style; he’s real unorthodox. And you can’t break that guy.”
As for those who paint Jardine as merely a striker, Jackson notes that “The Dean of Mean” has won his share of Grappler’s Quest tournaments.
“You might want to ask the people he grappled with if he’s only a striker,” Jackson says.
Jackson’s partner, striking and kickboxing coach Mike Winkeljohn -- a former ISKA champion -- went as far as to say Jardine “is a better ground fighter than he is a stand-up fighter, so I hope people think that Keith is only a striker. I hope they keep thinking that.”
Of Jardine’s 14 wins, six have come by KO or TKO, two by submission. Does Jackson feel there is any additional pressure on Jardine because his fight is the main event?
“No, he’s been there before,” Jackson says, pointing to Jardine’s split decision victory over Liddell in the UFC 76 main event. “I don’t think it’s a big deal. We’re just looking at the fight in front of us, and that’s all we’re focusing on.”
Winkeljohn disagreed with the notion that Jardine may not match up well with Jackson.
“It’s a pretty even fight,” he says. “It’s a matter of who can impose their will and their gameplan on the other. I mean, really, it’s a pick ’em fight as far as skill level goes. We all know Quinton -- he’s strong. He’s one of the best ever, but Keith has always been able to fight with a great gameplan and overcome anybody else’s abilities.”
Winkeljohn says Jardine’s unorthodox style not only includes “awkward, herky-jerky movements” but hitting at odd angles, as well.
“Hitting at odd angles is a great thing,” he says. “It makes it harder for other people to pick you apart.”
Winkeljohn says Jardine’s plan of attack will include exploiting what his camp considers to be a few weaknesses in Jackson’s game.
“Footwork, for one,” Winkeljohn says. “Quinton does certain things with his footwork that I think we have a good gameplan for. And his method of defense -- I think we have a good gameplan for that, too. Quinton’s ground game comes off his strength, but there’s no doubt that when he’s on his back, he’s going to be like a fish out of water with Keith on top of him.”
While he agrees Jardine’s strongest asset resides in his mental toughness, Winkeljohn says it has worked against him at times.
“Mentally, he’s our toughest guy, but in the past, in the couple of losses that he’s had, he’s been too tough,” he says. “If Keith would grab hold, clinch and cover up instead of trying to fight, he could have weathered those storms [when] he got hurt.”
In the course of a year, Jardine suffered two devastating knockouts -- the first in 48 seconds at the hands of Houston Alexander at UFC 71 in May 2007. The second came even quicker, at 36 seconds, courtesy of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 84 in May.
“Now Keith’s educated on that,” Winkeljohn says. “That’s not going to happen anymore. Now it’s a matter of using his strength and his toughness in a proper matter.”