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Jardine holds the key

UFC light heavyweight contender Keith Jardine (14-4-1 MMA, 6-3 UFC) finds himself in a situation to play the spoiler.  Jardine squares off against former light heavyweight champion Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson (29-7 MMA, 4-1 UFC) at UFC 96 in Columbus, Ohio on March 7.

It has been rumored that with a win over Jardine the former champion would move himself into the number one contender role and get the first shot at new title holder Rashad Evans (13-0-1 MMA, 8-0-1 UFC).

With his impressive first round knockout of Wanderlei Silva (32-9-1 MMA, 1-2 UFC) at UFC 79 it would seem obvious that Jackson would get the next shot, at least it seems that way.

However, there is another fighter that could also be considered the number one contender, and in many minds, should be the next challenger for Rashad Evan’s Light Heavyweight title. 

Lyoto Machida (14-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC), fresh off his own first round knockout over the very dangerous Thiago Silva (13-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC), has proven himself to be a number one contender with victories over some of the best fighters in MMA like Rich Franklin, Stephan Bonnar, B.J. Penn, Tito Ortiz, and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou.

Both fighters have gone up against the best fighters in the world and both have enjoyed recent success so the question is, which fighter has the better argument?

Jackson lost his belt to the very versatile Forrest Griffin (16-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) in a unanimous decision that was in some eyes questionable and controversial. He bounced back with a brutal manhandling of Silva and now has his chance to make his case against Jardine.

On the other side you have the very talented and undefeated Lyoto Machida, who has rolled through all of his competition. If the UFC were to choose this route they would have two undefeated contenders fighting for the belt.  The only knock on Machida has been his elusive style that has at times elicited criticism from MMA “experts”.  His recent destruction of Thiago Silva changed many minds about Lyoto’s ability to finish a fight in dramatic fashion.

Both fighters have their arguments and both will most likely at one point fight for the title, but the question is, what path will Jardine make for fellow teammate and champion Rashad Evans?

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