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Hamill outslugs Jardine in bloody UFC victory

Court McGee became the Season 11 champion of “The Ultimate Fighter,” but two former contestants stole the show Saturday.

Light heavyweight Matt Hamill essentially eschewed his wrestling background to win a decision over Keith Jardine in a bloody slugfest on an Ultimate Fighting Championship card at the Palms.

Hamill got one takedown in a third round that proved decisive. The former cast member on Season 3 of the reality show won the round on two of the three cards to take a majority decision.

He won 29-27 on two cards, while the third ruled the fight a 28-28 draw.

Hamill said he had to adjust on the fly after suffering an injury early.

“The game plan was to keep moving and set up the takedown, but I broke my left hand in the first round and I couldn’t attack on the takedowns,” he said. “I had to go to Plan B, and I put all my heart into it.”

A point was deducted from Jardine, a veteran of Season 1, in the second round when he appeared to accidentally catch Hamill in the eye with his thumb. The ruling seemed harsh, as the poke did not look intentional and came at the end of a furious exchange that had both fighters landing several hard shots.

Jardine effectively controlled the action in the first round using punches and kicks to keep Hamill off balance.

Hamill got the better of the exchanges in the second round and led entering the third due to the point deduction. As it turns out, winning the third round on two cards would have given him a split decision even without Jardine losing a point.

Jardine, whose face was covered in blood throughout the final two rounds, has lost four straight fights and could find his status in the UFC in jeopardy despite the fight of the night performance.

McGee submitted Kris McCray in the second round to win the Season 11 title. He was able to take down McCray in both rounds and set up a rear naked choke after taking his back.

A former drug addict and alcoholic, McGee became emotional after securing the lucrative UFC contract awarded to the winner of the reality show.

“It’s amazing. I want to dedicate this fight to anybody that’s struggling today,” he said through tears.

Jamie Yager, a polarizing figure from this season, was stopped in the second round by Rich Attonito.

Yager won the first round by stuffing Attonito’s takedown attempts and out-striking his castmate. But Attonito battered Yager in the second and eventually took his back and locked in a choke. Yager escaped the hold, but Attonito flattened him out and pounded on him until the fight was stopped.

Chris Leben handed Aaron Simpson his first loss with a technical knockout late in the second round. Simpson looked strong in the first round, but the more experienced Leben shrugged off several takedown attempts by the former college wrestler in the second and found the range with his powerful left hand.

“That’s what I do. I punch people in the face,” he said. “What am I supposed to say? I punch people in the face because that’s my job.”

Also, Dennis Siver gained a unanimous decision over Spencer Fisher. John Gunderson, Brad Tavares and Chris Camozzi won decisions on the undercard. Kyle Noke and newcomer Travis Browne won by TKO.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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