Hamill's style foiled a Jackson KO
As early as the very first round, it was apparent Hamill wasn't in the same class as the former UFC light heavyweight champion. Jackson stuffed every one of the wrestler's takedown attempts with no problems and dominated the action on his feet.
When it became clear Jackson had the fight in the bag, the Las Vegas crowd of 12,816 started looking for something more definitive than just a win -- they wanted a finish.
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Instead, they got what many immediately referred to as a "lackluster main event." Jackson hurt Hamill several times, but never seemed close to ending the fight. The crowd voiced its displeasure afterward, booing loudly as Jackson was announced the winner.
Despite publicly saying how badly he wanted a knockout, Jackson's KO-less streak continued, dating back to a win over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 92 on Dec. 27, 2008.
The result begged an obvious question: Why isn't Rampage knocking people out anymore?
To hear him tell it, Jackson says the main reason is opponents aren't in the Octagon to fight him these days. They're there to take him down.
"I don't like the way I'm fighting now," Jackson said. "Everybody is trying to take me down and I can't go out there and keep fighting the same way of rushing guys.
"The first time I sparred in this training camp, I brought in some great wrestlers and rushed forward and they were taking me down. I thought, 'What am I doing? I have to sit back and counterpunch, defend the takedown.' When people are just wanting to take you down, you have to do things another way."
On Saturday, Jackson (32-8) said it took less than a minute for him to realize what Hamill's game plan was. It looked similar to the one Rashad Evans used one year ago to decision Jackson at UFC 114.[+] EnlargeEd Mulholland for ESPN.comDespite landing his fair share of punches, Quinton Jackson never came close to stopping Matt Hamill.
He knew right away a knockout would be tough to find.
"I saw [the game plan] as soon as I got in there with him," Jackson said. "He was staying far away and I could tell he was setting up to take me down. It just made me not do exactly what I wanted to do.
"I wanted to come throw some boatloads on him. He's a tough guy. I was a little disappointed."
To put things in perspective, a few other factors contributed to Jackson's inability to finish.
Immediately following the win, he admitted he fought through a fractured hand injury he sustained in December, while goofing around with a friend in Japan. Although he claimed it didn't affect his performance, he admitted, "What's more scary than anything is knowing you're punching with something that's broken."
There's also the durability factor of Hamill. The 34-year-old has been finished only once (against Rich Franklin at UFC 88) in his five-year professional career. Jackson attested to Hamill's heart, saying he tried hard to be the second to finish him.
Jackson hasn't been recording knockouts, but he's been winning fights. UFC president Dana White announced Saturday the promotion intends to give him the next shot at current champion Jon Jones sometime this year.
Not only will the fight give Jackson the opportunity to reclaim his title, it's a way to keep him in action. He hasn't fought more than twice in a year since 2007.
"I believe in guys staying consistent and fighting three times a year," White said. "Your timing is on, you're in shape, you have all the tools if you stay busy. Hopefully we can keep him busy."
If Jackson faces Jones later this year, a win -- forget a knockout -- would be incredibly impressive on its own. Maybe there are simply bigger fish than knockouts to be caught.
Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.
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