Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson won his second consecutive bout, defeating Keith Jardine by unanimous decision in front of a sold-out crowd at UFC 96 on Saturday.
Next up for Jackson is a chance to regain his title as light heavyweight champion by fighting current champion Rashad Evans.
UFC president Dana White said Jackson and Evans will fight at UFC 98 in Las Vegas on May 23 as long as Jackson is able to return to action. Should Jackson be unable to fight so soon, White said Lyoto Machida will fight Evans.
"I want my belt back!" Jackson screamed after his 30th career victory.
Jackson had Jardine stumbling several times during the fight but each time Jardine fought back. In the closing seconds of the three-round bout Jackson knocked Jardine to the mat with a left hook.
"To be honest I feel like I needed these three rounds," Jackson said. "Keith is tough, I didn't expect him to be that tough."
Two judges scored the bout 29-28 and the third scored it 30-27 for Jackson.
In the co-main event heavyweight Shane Carwin remained undefeated, improving his record to 11-0 by knocking off Gabriel Gonzaga (10-4) by TKO just 1:09 into the first round.
Carwin, 34, dropped Gonzaga, 29, to the mat with a right punch to the face and delivered two more punches before the referee stopped the bout.
Earlier on the main card, Matt Brown put on a dominating display, winning by TKO 1:32 into the first round of his welterweight bout with Pete Sell.
Brown, an Ohio native, gave his home state much to cheer about, delivering a series of punches, knees and kicks which had Sell "out on his feet," Brown said.
"I was pushing him and he was falling," Brown said after improving his record to 12-2.
Fan favorite Matt "The Hammer" Hamill, who is deaf, won his light heavyweight bout with previously undefeated Mark Munoz by knockout 3:53 into the first round.
Hamill, another Ohio native, connected on a right kick to Munoz's head, which knocked Munoz to the ground and after a few glancing punches the referee stopped the fight.
"I needed to get my kick (going)," Hamill said. "(I was) waiting for the right spot, the right time _ bang!"
Munoz left the Octagon under his own power wearing a neck brace.
Afterward White said Munoz was OK.
In the opening bout of the main card Gray Maynard remained undefeated (8-0-1) winning an unanimous decision over Jim Miller (13-2) in their lightweight bout. All three judges scored the bout 30-27 for Maynard, a three-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Michigan State.
In a controversial and quick ending to one of the undercard bouts, Shane Nelson won by TKO just 44 seconds into the first round against Aaron Riley in a lightweight matchup.
Neither fighter was happy about the bout being stopped, even though Riley was knocked to the canvas with a series of punches. Nelson apologized to the crowd in Nationwide Arena.
"It wasn't my call," Nelson said. "It was out of my hands if the ref stopped it. We can do it again."
Riley said: "It was definitely an early stoppage. Everybody saw me take a whole lot worse than that. I had all my faculties about me then, and I still do. Maybe next time we'll be able to fight."
In the second bout of the undercard, Brandon Vera defeated Mike Patt by TKO at 1:27 of the second round in their light-heavyweight bout.
In other undercard bouts Jason Brilz defeated Tim Boetsch by unanimous decision in their light heavyweight bout.
Kendall Grove defeated Jason Day by TKO at 1:32 in the first round of their middleweight match, connecting with a right punch and three elbows to Day's head.
Tamdan McCrory knocked off Ryan Madigan by TKO at 3:35 of round one in their welterweight bout.
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