The UFC has announced that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will face Keith Jardine in the main event of UFC 96, which is scheduled to take place on March 7 from Columbus, Ohio. The winner of the bout will likely be moved into a title match while UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans‘ first challenger is still open to speculation.
After losing the light heavyweight title to Forrest Griffin in a closely contested match up, Jackson made headlines on July 15 when he led police on a wild chase through the streets of California that ended in arrest. He recently pleaded guilty to multiple charges as part of a plea deal to avoid jail time.
Jackson recently bounced back from his loss to Griffin and his legal woes with a crushing first round knockout victory over Wanderlei Silva, at UFC 92. Jackson has lost two previous times vs. Silva and the win not only avenged the prior defeats, but thrust Jackson right back into title picture. A win over Jardine would likely guarantee a title shot.
Jardine has been on the cusp of a championship match twice with big wins over Griffin and Chuck Liddell but his title dreams were cut short when he dropped matches to Houston Alexander and then Wanderlei Silva following those bouts. Coming off of a win over Brandon Vera at UFC 89, a win over Jackson would give Jardine the kind of momentum needed to earn his first-ever shot at the UFC light heavyweight title.