- Brian Knapp
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"Rampage" 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 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 low 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 1 to 10, I'd give myself about a five."
Nelson no match for Mir
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."
Browne channels Superman, KOs Struve
Unbeaten Travis Browne blasted the 6-foot-11 Stefan Struve with a textbook Superman punch and finished the Dutchman with a pair of hammerfists on the ground in their heavyweight showcase. Browne ended Struve's outing in decisive fashion 4:11 into the first round.
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?"
Story wins sixth straight, upsets Alves
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, he 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."
Stann finishes Santiago in second round
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 2.
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 2, when 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."
'Mighty Mouse' outpoints former champion Torres
The once-beaten Demetrious Johnson wrestled, grappled and willed his way to a unanimous decision over former WEC bantamweight champion Miguel Torres. All three judges scored it 29-28 for the 5-3 Johnson, an emerging force at 135 pounds.
Though the entertaining 15-minute encounter resulted in a unanimous decision, it was highly competitive, as Torres answered repeated takedowns from Johnson with a hyperactive guard. However, Johnson spent much of the match on top, perhaps swaying the judges to his side. Torres attacked relentlessly with leg locks, triangles and elbows from the bottom, sweeping Johnson from his back on more than one occasion.
Johnson landed the most significant punch of the fight -- an overhand right -- early in Round 3, and fought free from a Torres mount and capped the final stanza with a late takedown. The 24-year-old Madisonville, Ky., native improved to 2-0 inside the Octagon.
Boetsch dominates Grove
Takedowns, ground-and-pound and a significant strength advantage carried Tim Boetsch to a one-sided unanimous decision over "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 3 winner Kendall Grove in a middleweight matchup. All three judges scored it 30-27.
Boetsch scored with a variety of takedowns, including a beautiful judo throw in the second round. Grove simply could not stay upright long enough to put together any kind of an attack. Boetsch, a former light heavyweight, closed strong and showed no ill effects from the weight cut to 185 pounds. He grounded Grove three times in the final round, as he won for the fifth time in six fights.
"I'm certainly glad I [moved to middleweight]," said Boetsch, who has joined forces with respected trainer Matt Hume. "I felt great in there -- really strong. I'm definitely looking to make a run.
Tibau choke submits Oliveira
American Top Team's Gleison Tibau submitted Rafaello Oliveira with a second-round rear-naked choke in a preliminary lightweight bout. An injury replacement for WEC import Bart Palaszewski, Oliveira asked out of the fight 3:28 into Round 2.
Tibau controlled the first round with takedowns and power punches and then turned up the heat. The 27-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt delivered a takedown in the second round and showered Oliveira with punches from the top. Ultimately, Oliveira surrendered his back, and Tibau sank his hooks. The choke and the tapout followed soon after.
Tibau, who has won four of his last five fights, improved to 9-5 in the UFC.
McDonald edges Cariaso on scorecards
Once-beaten bantamweight prospect Michael McDonald outpointed Strikeforce veteran Chris Cariaso en route to a split verdict on the scorecards. Two of the three cageside judges ruled in McDonald's favor by 29-28 counts; a third scored it 30-27 for Cariaso.
McDonald landed the stouter strikes in the first round and secured a double-leg in the second, consolidating the takedown by passing guard and moving to full mount. Cariaso enjoyed his most productive stretch in round three, as he mixed punches with kicks and scored with a takedown of his own. Still, he could not keep the 20-year-old McDonald from his sixth win in as many outings.
Barao spoils Escovedo's UFC debut
Renan "Barao" do Nascimento Mota Pegado spoiled the promotional debut of Cole Escovedo, as he notched a unanimous decision in a preliminary bantamweight matchup. Scores were 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for Barao, who has rattled off 16 consecutive victories.
A Nova Uniao representative, Barao scored with multiple takedowns in all three rounds and kept Escovedo guessing with a variety of strikes, from punches and low kicks to flying knees. Escovedo threatened with submissions in Rounds 1 and 3, but his efforts went for naught, as the former WEC featherweight champion lost for the third time in four fights.