By Thomas Gerbasi
LAS VEGAS, June 19 – Following disappointing performances in their previous fights, both Keith Jardine and Matt Hamill needed to pull off something big in their light heavyweight bout at The Pearl at The Palms Saturday night, and they did, engaging in a memorable three rounder won by Hamill via majority decision.
Scores were 29-27 twice and 28-28 for Hamill, who improves to 10-2; Jardine, who has now lost four in a row and five of his last six, falls to 14-9-1.
Hamill – who was coming off a DQ win over Jon Jones last December - took the fight to Jardine from the opening bell, and he kept his foe off-balance with his standup attack. Jardine adjusted well and began implementing his own offense, scoring particularly well with his kicks before moving upstairs with a flurry of punches. As the round progressed, Jardine was even more on target, with Hamill needing to readjust his gameplan for the second stanza.
The first three minutes of the second round continued to go Jardine’s way, but then a slugfest broke out, with Hamill appearing to turn the momentum in his favor before an inadvertent poke in the eye by Jardine brought a momentary halt to the action and cost ‘The Dean of Mean’ a point on the scorecards from referee Herb Dean. In response, Jardine went after Hamill with both hands, but ‘The Hammer’ was able to rock his foe and leave him bloodied from two cuts on his face before the bell sounded.
The cut on Jardine’s forehead started bleeding immediately as the third round began, but it didn’t stop the Albuquerque product from taking the fight to his foe. Hamill was the fresher of the two though, and he was able to get Jardine to the mat. After a brief stall in the action, Dean had the Octagonside physician check Jardine’s cuts, but he was given the green light to continue. Jardine’s response once the action resumed was to land a flurry and toss off a Hamill takedown attempt, and now fatigue was becoming an issue. Now though, it looked like Jardine had more gas in the tank as Hamill walked forward with his hands down. And while it was Jardine landing the crisper shots as he kept Hamill from getting the takedown, he ultimately couldn’t keep the Ohio native from the victory.
There’s no substitute for experience, and Ultimate Fighter season one alum Chris Leben proved it in his bout against Aaron Simpson, as he handed the middleweight prospect his first pro loss via a second round TKO.
Simpson kicked off his offensive attack with a takedown, and as Leben got back to his feet he added in some knees. Leben shook them off and pushed Simpson against the fence, landing with his own strikes. The two went on to switch up position before breaking, and they traded punches briefly before locking up again. With a little more than two minutes left, Simpson appeared to stun Leben briefly when he picked him up and dropped him to the canvas, but ‘The Crippler’’ quickly rose and got his bearings back, only to get trapped against the fence for the rest of the round.
Leben (20-6) was effective with his punches and kicks early in the second, with the rally only getting stopped when Simpson (7-1) was able to close the gap and lock up with the veteran. Luckily, Leben was able to keep those lockups to a minimum, and after a solid barrage kicked off by a left hand late in the round, a stunned Simpson dropped to the mat for a takedown. Leben sprawled and unleashed a volley of ground strikes. Simpson got up, but fell into the fence on the other side of the Octagon. Referee Josh Rosenthal then decided to halt the bout at the 4:17 mark, and Leben had his biggest win since his stoppage of Alessio Sakara in March of 2008.
Germany’s Dennis Siver scored the biggest win of his UFC career, surviving a bad cut over his left eye to pound out a close, but unanimous decision over veteran contender Spencer Fisher in a hard-fought lightweight contest.
Scores were 30-27 and 29-28, twice, for Siver.
As advertised, neither fighter had to look too hard to find the other, and the kicks came flying fast from both men, with the slightly busier Fisher holding the edge and even working well on the inside. Soon, a cut opened over Siver’s left eye, and though he kept coming forward and finished the round strong, the blood was beginning to bother him.
With the cut worked on and under control between rounds, Siver was able to fight with clear vision, and the nip and tuck action of the first round didn’t let up in round two, as each fighter had his moments during the five minute period.
Early in the third, Fisher brought a halt to the action for a second time due to a low kick, drawing a stern warning from referee Kim Winslow. Once the bout got back underway, the pattern of the previous two rounds continued, with both men pushing the pace, but neither doing enough to put the other in any serious danger. In the end though, it was Siver who had impressed the judges enough to pull out the win on the scorecards.
With the victory, Siver improves to 16-7; Fisher falls to 24-6.
It took TUF11 middleweight Rich Attonito a little while to warm up in the main card opener, but once he did, he was tough to stop, as he halted castmate Jamie Yager with ground strikes in the second round.
“He’s very explosive and fast and it was tough to time him,” said Attonito, “but we stuck to the gameplan.”
Yager was effective with his strikes early, and even bounced back up quickly from Attonito’s first takedown, showing poise in his first Octagon bout. And though Attonito was able to land with the occasional shot, the busier Yager took the round.
Attonito began getting closer with his strikes in the second round as Yager slowed, and after rocking him with a right with under two minutes left, he got the Californian to the mat and took his back. After briefly looking for a choke, Attonito opted for some good old ground and pound and after a series of unanswered strikes, referee Steve Mazzagatti halted the bout at 4:25 of the second.
With the win, Attonito ups his record to 8-3; Yager falls to 2-2.