Previously dubbed the main event of the evening, the light heavyweight showdown between The Ultimate Fighter season three contestant Matt Hamill (8-2, 7-2 UFC) and The Ultimate Fighter season two semifinalist Keith Jardine (15-7-1, 6-6 UFC) will now serve as the co-main event of the evening. Jardine is currently in the midst of a three-fight losing streak as he was dropped by Ryan Bader and Thiago Silva, and he lost a decision to Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 96. His last win took place at UFC 89 against Brandon Vera in October of 2008.
Hamill has been much more successful, although he hasn't faced the competition that Jardine has over the last couple of years. He's currently on a three-fight win streak, but his most recent victory came against a rampaging Jon Jones who illegally elbowed Hamill with 12-to-6 elbows. Hamill was unable to continue due to a shoulder injury, but the fouls were what ultimately disqualified Jones. Jones would have easily finished off Hamill, but it doesn't change the fact that Hamill was able to defeat and finish off Reese Andy and Mark Munoz in previous performances.
There isn't a whole lot of relevance to this match-up. A lot of fans have discounted both Jardine and Hamill as mid-level fighters who don't really have the mustard to push themselves into the upper-echelon, or in Jardine's case -- only stick in that upper-echelon for a short period of time. What this match-up could signal is either an end to Jardine's run with the UFC or the opportunity to begin the process of turning things around in his career.
Both men are sitting in their low-to-mid thirties coming into this fight, but it's apparent that age is affecting Jardine more than Hamill. Hamill's skill-set definitely allows him to be more effective with age, but Jardine should provide some danger in his awkward striking ability in this fight. Unfortunately, Jardine's power has never been threatening, and Hamill has the strength to be more of a threat in taking Jardine down and punishing him from the top.
I won't delve deep into this fight with boring analysis. We all know what each fighter brings to the table. Jardine will maintain his feet and strike with that awkward movement and style while Hamill will try to forge ahead with his own awkward striking and clinch tactics to gain a takedown. I'd normally side with Jardine against a fighter like Hamill, but Jardine's chin has weakened considerably. He's been crushed twice in his last two fights, and even though Hamill has only produced standing knockout... I think he can produce the power to knock out Jardine from the top after a takedown rather easily.
Jardine has a chance to frustrate Hamill over three rounds, but I'm not inclined to pick a fighter who cruises to decisions and doesn't have much going for him in terms of finishing ability. Hamill, at the very least, has a way to win with the fifteen minute time limit, and I think Jardine's chin is going to be tested. I'll take Matt Hamill here.