Strikeforce announced today that it will host a middleweight championship bout on Saturday, January 7, when champion Luke Rockhold battles UFC veteran Keith Jardine in the night’s main event, live from The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.
“What a way for Strikeforce to kick off the New Year!” said Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker. “We’re happy to give fans in Vegas the chance to see the Strikeforce middleweight title defended by one of the hottest young champions in the sport in Luke Rockhold when he takes on, quite possibly, the toughest and most unorthodox fighter in all of MMA, Keith Jardine. Fans at Hard Rock should expect an exciting standup battle in the main event on January 7.”
After capturing the Strikeforce middleweight championship by defeating Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in September, Luke Rockhold makes his first title defense against one of the toughest in the business in Jardine. A product of the famed American Kickboxing Academy, Rockhold (8-1) is surrounded by some of the most experienced fighters in the world, who should help in providing a well-balanced training camp and gameplan in order for the 26-year-old to defeat his veteran opponent.
“Jardine is a big name who’s fought a lot of tough guys in this sport,” Rockhold said. “I’m not going to sleep on him or this opportunity. This isn’t just another fight for me, I’ve wanted my chance to prove I’m a champion and a five-round title defense is the way to do it. We’re going to prove to fans in Las Vegas what we’ve got over here in this division. You can expect this fight to be nothing short of spectacular.”
Keith Jardine is widely considered one of the toughest and most unorthodox fighters that the sport has ever seen. “The Dean of Mean,” who trains at Greg Jackson’s MMA, is a UFC veteran holding wins over Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin and Brandon Vera. The Ultimate Fighter season 2 contestant would like to cap off his impressive resume with a world championship.
“I’ve completely rededicated myself to this sport,” said Jardine, whose record currently stands at 16-10-2. “I’ve sacrificed a lot to be where I am and I want to make the most of it. A title shot against Rockhold is a huge opportunity that I’m not going to waste. Luke’s a tough kid and he beat a tough opponent in ‘Jacare’. but he doesn’t fight like I do and he’s never had an opponent push him like I will. This will end with me imposing my will on him in a way he’s never seen.”
The event will also feature two up-and-coming fighters taking on former champions when Robbie Lawler faces Adlan Amagov in a middleweight bout and “King” Mo Lawal takes on undefeated Lorenz Larkin in a light heavyweight bout. Also on the televised portion of the card, Tarec Saffiedine and Tyler Stinson will clash in a welterweight bout. A fifth yet-to-be announced fight will air on the Strikeforce portion of the event.
With a record of 18-8, 1 NC, Robbie Lawler is a veteran of Strikeforce, UFC and PRIDE, and captured the middleweight championship during his time in EliteXC. A frequent training partner of UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, “Ruthless” often relies on his dominant wrestling knowledge to control his opponent and secure the victory, though he also holds knockout victories over Frank Trigg, Matt Lindland and Scott Smith.
Though new to MMA fans in the U.S., Adlan Amagov has had an extremely successful career in Russia. Only 25 years old, “Borz” currently trains under the tutelage of Mike Constantino at AMA Fight Club alongside UFC standouts Jim and Dan Miller, as well as Charlie Brenneman. Owner of a 9-1-1 record, Amagov knows what a victory over the more experienced Lawler can do for his middleweight title hopes and is looking to keep his winning streak intact by utilizing his effective striking and Sambo skills.
One of the most vocal and recognizable personalities in the sport, “King” Mo Lawal steps back into the cage for the first time since September when he knocked out Roger Gracie in the final seconds of the first round. The former NCAA Division I wrestler also bears heavy hands, having ended six of his fights via KO to bring his overall record to 8-1. The former STRIKEFORCE light heavyweight champ is ready to put gold back around his waist, but must first get through undefeated rising prospect Lorenz Larkin, whose record currently stands at 12-0. In his career, “The Monsoon” has scored eight knockout victories and hopes his ninth comes on Jan. 7.
At just 25 years old with a record of 11-3, Tarec Saffiedine has no doubt made a name for himself in the welterweight division, engaging in wars with Tyron Woodley, Scott Smith and James Terry. A versatile fighter who trains with UFC star Dan Henderson, “Sponge” has put the division on notice that he wants the belt more than anything. His title hunt continues when he takes on 21-7 Tyler Stinson. “The Evolution” was last seen knocking out Eduardo Pamplona at the 0:15 mark of the first round in July at Strikeforce: FEDOR vs. HENDERSON. Expect Stinson, a proven striker, to go for a similar ending in this bout when these two meet in Las Vegas.
Tickets for Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Jardine go on sale Saturday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. PT and will be available at The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino box office or online at thejointlasvegas.com. Tickets are also available online at TicketMaster.com, by phone at 800-745-3000, and at all Ticketmaster outlets. The event will air live on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).