UFC veteran Keith Jardine is set to face current Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold on Jan. 7, 2012. MMA veteran Tim Kennedy was originally next in line for a title shot, but an undisclosed injury took him out of the picture. MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout, even though Strikeforce is yet to make it official.
For Jardine, it will be his first fight in the middleweight division, and he’ll have the perfect opportunity to revitalize his MMA career when he faces Rockhold inside the cage.
Rockhold won the Strikeforce middleweight championship back in September, shocking many MMA fans with his unanimous decision victory over former middleweight champ, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.
Jardine wasn’t bad either in his last performance against former Strikeforce light-heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi, coming in as a huge underdog and walking away with a draw against the highly accomplished MMA fighter.
Jardine enjoyed a lot of success earlier in his MMA career, putting together a 9-1 professional record on his way to the “Ultimate Fighter” house. Jardine ended up losing to Rashad Evans in the semi-finals, but he did do enough to impress the UFC’s bigwigs.
Jardine’s success carried over to the UFC, securing wins over solid MMA fighters like Forest Griffin, Chuck Liddell, and Brandon Vera. Jardine’s success came to an end in 2009, and the ensuing four fight losing streak that followed brought his relationship with the UFC to an end.
Jardine eventually regained his momentum fighting on smaller shows, and his close fight with Mousasi made him relevant once again. Jardine couldn’t have asked for better fight in his middleweight debut, and his fans can only hope he makes the most of the amazing (somewhat undeserved) opportunity.
Hardcore MMA fans won’t be proud of Strikeforce’s decision though; given the other suitable opponents they could have given Rockhold. With Kennedy out due to injury, the obvious choice for the fight would be “Jacare.” Souza won’t be happy with the news, and I’m sure he won’t be the only one.
Still, Jardine has been given a golden opportunity to redeem himself, and it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for the Montana native.