by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
When Ultimate Fighter Season 1 champion Forrest Griffin was announced to fight Ultimate Fighter Season 2 competitor Keith Jardine, many fans knew this fight could be yet another of those now legendary UFC battles. Each man was prepared both mentally and physically to go full throttle for a complete 15 minutes, but just over four minutes into the first round of their UFC 66 match up this past Saturday night, Keith Jardine terminated all hopes that fans would catch any glimpse of a long, hard-fought war. The Dean of Mean ended Griffin’s night with a solid punch combination followed up by a short but sweet ground-and-pound clinic.
With under a minute to go in Round 1, Jardine caught Griffin with a crisp combination that wobbled Forrest on his feet. Jardine then immediately closed the distance in an effort to overwhelm the now unsteady Griffin. Both men started throwing punches wildly, but the hard-hitting Jardine landed a punch flush to Griffin’s chin knocking the TUF Season 1 winner to the ground. Jardine gave Forrest no time to recover and continued raining down huge right hands until ‘Big’ John McCarthy jumped in and stopped the contest at the 4:41 mark of the very first round.
It was widely understood leading up to this contest that this fight would be the biggest to date of Jardine’s 15-fight career. Participating in a fight of this magnitude – even with all of the mental and physical preparations fighters do – can be a nerve-wracking experience if that individual allows it to be. Keith was as prepared as he could be, but even a man who is as mentally strong as Jardine occasionally feels the pressure.
Keith said, “I can’t tell you how nervous I was all day leading up to that fight. Not nervous for my opponent, but just cause I’ve worked so hard and I wanted to finally showcase my talents…I’ve never been so nervous before leading up to a fight.”
Both fans and MMA enthusiasts alike suspected that this fight would be a close one, but it seems like most people still expected Forrest coming out as the victor. Jardine recognized that he was a bit of an underdog, but he also knew that he’d already put in the time at the gym and all that was left was his hard work finally coming to fruition.
Keith said, “In my heart I believed that I was going to win it, but it was just…would it pay off, you know?”
Well, Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev., it paid off for Jardine. With this win Keith has undoubtedly placed himself among the upper echelon in the UFC’s light-heavyweight division.
If you’d like to hear more about what Keith Jardine said about his latest fight, join Damon Martin and Jeff Cain on the Tuesday, January 2nd edition of MMAWeekly’s SoundOff Radio show. Keith went into much more detail about who he’d like to have as an opponent in the near future, who he would never even consider fighting, what Forrest had to say to him after the fight and much more, so for the answers to all of these questions and more listen to Tuesday night’s edition of MMAWeekly’s SoundOff Radio.