Clearly an enigma in the world of elite MMA, Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine appears to be allergic to success. To call his career “Inconsistent” would be comparable to calling that of Georges St-Pierre “Meteoric”.
This student of Jackson’s Submission Fighting in Albuquerque, New Mexico has notched wins against a host of MMA notables, including the formidable Brandon Vera and former UFC light heavyweight champions Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell.
However, this alumnus of season two of The Ultimate Fighter has followed each of those notable wins with immediate losses, dropping fights to Houston Alexander, Wanderlei Silva and Quinton Jackson.
Granted, losing to high caliber fighters is far from embarrassing, but this frustrating pattern of ups and downs has left Jardine with a clouded trajectory within the UFC.
This Saturday night at UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira, Jardine squares off against the 13-1 Thiago Silva, a dangerous Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. Now a member of American Top Team in Florida, Silva looks to rebound from a first round knockout loss at the hands of reigning UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida at UFC 94: St. Pierre vs. Penn 2.
In what is clearly a redemption bout for both athletes, Jardine appears confident that a victory is within his sights. He elaborated on his goals during an interview with FanHouse, stating, “In this fight you’re going to see a lot better Keith Jardine than you did in the last fight . . . it’s the new Keith Jardine on my way to the top of the UFC.”
Jardine also stated that he plans on putting on an entertaining performance.
“Honestly, the match up is great for me. He is a guy that likes to brawl… likes to stand up,” Jardine stated during a UFC interview promoting the event, “It’s guaranteed, it’s going to be a great fight.”
On the opposite side of the cage, Silva has no intention of laying down for Jardine and is clearly motivated by his loss to The Dragon. During an interview with MMA Junkie, he said about the defeat, “It hurt my soul . . .I had lost in jiu-jitsu tournaments, but MMA is different.”
The stakes are high for both combatants. Jardine must determine if his career has reached its apex as the perennial gatekeeper of the light heavyweight division, but never a champion. While Silva needs to return to his winning ways before his career falls from the fast track to completely off track.
Ultimately, both men are acutely aware of the unofficial UFC policy that allows for a fighter suffering two consecutive losses to have his contract terminated and neither man wants to join the recently departed Thales Leites in the unemployment line.