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Jardine Mean Enough to Outpoint Vera; Lytle Wins War with Taylor

Thomas Gerbasi, UFC - In his first bout since a first round loss to Wanderlei Silva in May, light heavyweight contender Keith Jardine got a much needed career boost as he scored a three round split decision win over Brandon Vera in the UFC 89 co-feature at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England Saturday night.

By Thomas Gerbasi

In his first bout since a first round loss to Wanderlei Silva in May, light heavyweight contender Keith Jardine got a much needed career boost as he scored a three round split decision win over Brandon Vera in the UFC 89 co-feature at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England Saturday night.

Scores were 29-28 twice and 28-29 for Jardine. The loss was Vera’s first at light heavyweight, but ‘The Truth’ has now lost three of his last four overall.

Jardine surprised Vera at the bell, using some quick strikes to set-up a takedown. The trip to the mat wound up costing Jardine, as he got cut on top of the head while Vera worked on a kimura. After Vera let the lock go, Jardine opened up with ground strikes, but ‘The Truth’ fired back with elbows from the bottom. With a little over two minutes left, referee Kevin Mulhall re-started the action, and the two resumed hostilities on the feet. The two traded flash knockdowns in the final 30 seconds, and though no significant damage was done, Jardine did take over in the closing moments with a series of hard punches that seemingly stunned Vera.

Vera opened the second on the offensive, scoring with a solid right hand and a kick to get his opponent’s attention. Jardine aggressively fought back, but was greeted with crisp counters by Vera. 90 seconds in, Vera got Jardine to the mat, but ‘The Dean of Mean’ made it back to his feet quickly. The pace dipped for the rest of the round, but if anyone was scoring consistently in the frame, it was Vera.

With the fight still close, Vera and Jardine came out with tactical mindsets, hoping not to make a fight-ending mistake. Vera’s leg kicks and sporadic counters continued to score points, but the crowd still got restless by the lack of sustained action. At the halfway point of the round, Jardine tried for a takedown, and though he didn’t get it, he was able to lock Vera up for a spell and score with some strikes. After the two separated, the crowd voiced its opinion again, but it was Jardine’s aggression and a late flurry of hooks that appeared to push him over the top on the scorecards.

With the win, Jardine improves to 14-5-1; Vera drops to 9-3.

Light heavyweight up and comer Luiz “Banha” Cane made a major statement in his third UFC bout, halting highly-regarded Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in the second round.

The win was Cane’s second straight TKO, following a June stoppage of Jason Lambert.

Sokoudjou (5-3) opened up his offensive attack with a series of hard kicks to the legs and midsection, but Cane (10-1, 1 NC) weathered the early storm and stayed in the pocket, firing back with kicks of his own. And though it was all Sokoudjou though through much of the first round, by the end of the round, Cane seemed to be getting into a rhythm as his opponent slowed down.

Looking winded as the second round commenced, Sokoudjou came out with a little less urgency in the second, and an inadvertent low kick by Cane didn’t help matters for him either. When the action picked up again, Cane resumed his pursuit of his opponent, and he took a few hard counters for his trouble. The Brazilian was unbothered by the shots though, and with under a minute left, Cane pounced. A knee followed by a left punch to the head dropped Sokoudjou, and the follow-up barrage forced referee Marc Goddard to halt the bout with 45 seconds left in the second stanza.

Paul Taylor earned his third Fight of the Night award in five UFC outings, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to get his third Octagon win, as he was outscored by veteran Chris Lytle in a hard-fought three round welterweight battle.

Scores were 29-28 twice, and 30-27 for Lytle, who improves to 36-16-4; Taylor falls to 9-4-1.

Lytle and Taylor began exchanging blows immediately, with Lytle landing the crisper shots to the head and body. Taylor showed a chin of steel though, as he took everything the American threw at him and kept coming. Almost two minutes in, Lytle threw Taylor to the mat, but the Walsall native jumped right back up and locked up with Lytle against the fence, working the whole time. The second half of the round kept up the hectic pace, with Taylor landing short inside shots and Lytle landing the more thudding haymakers as he muscled his foe along the Octagon fence.

The second round began just like the first, with a couple of left hands jarring Taylor briefly. The fight soon went to the mat, with Lytle controlling matters against the fence. With a little over three minutes left, the two rose, and after a couple of kicks by Taylor, ‘Relentless’ scored a brief takedown before Lytle got back to his feet and pushed the bout to the Octagon again. In the final two minutes, Lytle appeared to fatigue, but he got a brief respite when accidentally kicked low. When the action resumed, Taylor upped his workrate while Lytle tried to overpower him and gain a breather at the same time.

Lytle began the third round by digging in with heavy blows to the body and head, but again, fatigue started to creep in for the Indianapolis native. With two minutes left, referee Kevin Mulhall called for a re-start as the action stalled, and though Lytle eventually got the takedown he was looking for, Taylor gamely fought his way back to his feet and finished strong with hard shots to the head that jarred ‘Lights Out’ just before the bell ended the bout.

Welterweight contender Marcus Davis was in fine form in his first bout since losing to Mike Swick in June, submitting previously unbeaten Paul Kelly in the second round.

Davis’ movement and in and out dashes appeared to befuddle Kelly early, and each rush from the Liverpool product was met with stiff rebukes from ‘The Irish Hand Grenade’. Midway through the round, Davis scored the first telling blow of the night with a kick to the stomach, and a minute later, he took the bout to the mat and tried to work his ground game on Kelly. Shortly thereafter, the two scrambled back to their feet, and Davis continued to peck at his foe and control the action.

Kelly still seemed tentative in the second round, though he kept moving forward. For his part, Davis kept landing quick counterpunches and lead kicks. Finally, Kelly made his move, taking Davis to the mat, but the Maine native responded well, sinking in the guillotine choke that produced a tap out at 2:16 of the second frame.

With the win, Davis improves to 20-5. Kelly falls to 8-1.