Jackson stuffed a series of telegraphed takedown attempts and punished Hamill with heavy power punches en route to a unanimous decision in the UFC 130 headliner on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. All three judges scored it 30-27 for Jackson, who has gone the distance in each of his last four appearances. Fans greeted the lack of a finish with howling boos.
“Matt Hamill is tough, man,” said Jackson, who improved to 7-2 in the UFC. “I tried to knock him out. I came into this fight with a fractured hand, and I apologize for not fighting the type of fight I wanted to. I tried to knock him out.”
Not one of Hamill’s attempted takedowns succeeded, and reality was quick to set in on the 34-year-old Loveland, Ohio, native. Outgunned on the feet and unable to get the fight to the ground, he was forced to absorb 15 minutes of punishment from the former UFC light heavyweight champion. Outside of leg kicks, his offensive attack was largely void of substance. Jackson matched his trademark power shots to the head with digging blows to Hamill’s body.
“He’s a great fighter,” Jackson said. “He has good kicks. I just wish I could have done my game plan a little more. On a scale of one to 10, I’d give myself about a five.”
In the co-main event, former heavyweight champion Frank Mir outworked and punished “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner Roy Nelson in a clear-cut and one-sided unanimous decision: 30-27, 30-27 and 30-26. The fight was never competitive.
Mir smashed Nelson with repeated knees from the clinch and delivered a series of takedowns -- a magnificent first-round judo throw included. Nelson had no answer for an opponent who had better all-around skills and far superior conditioning. Mir took down the exhausted Nelson three times in the third round, battering him with powerful elbows from the top.
Still one of the heavyweight division’s most gifted competitors, the 32-year-old Mir has posted back-to-back wins since his knockout loss to Shane Carwin at UFC 111 in March 2010.
“I pushed hard against a tough guy,” he said. “How many times did I hit him in the face? My God, what’s in that guy’s chin?”
Mir has his eyes on a return to title contention.
“[What’s next for me is] to keep improving,” he said. “I should be the titleholder here. It’s every fighter’s dream.”
Travis Browne File Photo
Browne remains undefeated.
The two men traded punches and kicks from the start before Browne secured a takedown and went to work on the ground midway through the first round. The long-limbed Struve twice threatened with chokes, but the Hawaiian escaped and elected to return to a standing position. Browne fired the Superman punch straight through Struve’s parted hands and sent the towering heavyweight crashing to the canvas. From there, the stoppage was inevitable.
“That’s what we do. We train to come in and [beat] somebody up,” said Browne, now 2-0-1 inside the Octagon. “Yeah, [the knockout was] pretty. It’s almost as pretty as my spandex, you know what I mean?”
The surging Rick Story advanced his cause in the welterweight division, as he posted a unanimous decision against former title contender Thiago Alves. All three cageside judges scored it the same -- 29-28 for Story, who will carry a six-fight winning streak into his next appearance.
Story scored with takedowns and pressed the fight with Alves from the clinch, as he backed the Brazilian striker into the cage and invited combat in close quarters. The 25-year-old traded liberally with Alves, one of the premier standup fighters at 170 pounds. Story ate his share of punishment when there was distance between the two welterweights, as Alves fired away with punches and knees, many of which found their mark. Even so, Alves spent more of his time trying to fend off the relentless Story, who stayed in his face throughout the fight.
“I feel great. It was a great fight,” Story said. “Alves is tough. He throws hard punches. Him knowing that I was a good wrestler, I figured he would have [better takedown defense]. [Fighting top contenders] is what I want. I want to prove that I belong up there.”
Brian Stann recorded the most significant victory of his career, as he stopped former Sengoku Raiden Championship titleholder Jorge Santiago on second-round punches in a featured middleweight battle. The end came 4:29 into round two.
Stann, now 5-2 in the UFC, set the table in the first round, when he blasted Santiago with a left hook, pounced on the downed Brazilian and rocked him with ground-and-pound. The 30-year-old Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative carried the momentum into round two, where he kept up his assault with punches to the head and brutal kicks to the leg and body.
A counter right hand to the temple dropped and dazed Santiago late in the second. Smelling a finish, Stann followed up with five unanswered punches, Santiago’s head bouncing off the canvas as he went. Referee Herb Dean was left no choice but to intervene.
“I’m ecstatic,” said Stann, a former Marine. “Jorge Santiago is a true champion. It’s hard to transition right from Japan to over here. He’s going to make a legit run at [the UFC] title. I’m so grateful that he gave me the honor to fight him.”
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