Keith Jardine: The Fighter Who Always Said Yes

April 8, 2012
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Keith Jardine UFC 96
Having a reputation as a fighter that will always step up whenever the UFC or Strikeforce asks you to can be a commendable thing in the sport of MMA.

Most fighters in the industry know it as an unspoken rule, but Zuffa officials love fighters who will step up and help save a fight card when injury strikes or something pops up on late notice that requires someone take a chance.

Throughout Keith Jardine‘s long career from his days in King of the Cage to his stint on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter to his recent Strikeforce fights, he’s always been the fighter willing to say “yes.”

When the UFC needed someone to face Chuck Liddell after his loss to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in a bout most assumed would be the former champion’s way to blaze a comeback trail, they called Jardine.

As UFC 96 fast approached and no main event had been named, the UFC picked Rampage as one of the fighters, but they needed an opponent, so they called Jardine.

When Strikeforce needed an opponent on eight days notice for Gegard Mousasi after Mike Kyle suffered an injury in training, they called Jardine.

And when Tim Kennedy was injured and unable to take a title fight against Luke Rockhold in January and Strikeforce was desperate for a main event, they called Jardine once again.

Why did they call Jardine so often? Because he was a performer and fighter that always showed up, that always gave it his all, and left his heart and soul inside the cage. He was the fighter who always said yes.

But after the loss to Rockhold, Jardine decided he needed to take some serious time to reflect. Throughout his nearly 11 year pro career, Jardine has never taken any long stretches of time away from the sport, and after suffering a devastating knockout loss to Rockhold in January, he decided it was long past time to step away from active competition.

“I’m taking a little bit of time off working on a few things back here, trying to get healthy, and I’m not sure when I’m going to come back and fight yet, but I’m not going to do it until I feel like I’m 100-percent healthy and ready to go,” Jardine told

“I feel like I didn’t show up in that last fight. That’s the first time ever in my career I felt like I was just kind of a shell of myself. I should have had a test fight first, but how can you turn down a title fight? I’m going to stay the course, I’m going to give it another shot and see what happens.”

The test fight Jardine was speaking about was a first attempt at cutting down to 185 pounds after spending almost his entire career fighting at 205 pounds. Sure, the cut was hard, but Jardine counts the loss to Rockhold as his house of cards that came tumbling down.

“Right now in my career, realistically I have to take things one fight at a time, and in my last fight I don’t think I gave all of myself. I think I held a lot back and I need to be in a position where I can give 100-percent,” Jardine stated.

This may be the first time ever that if the UFC or Strikeforce came calling right now, Jardine may actually say no to a fight.

“Now I’m in a weird position because for maybe for the first time in six years, ever since I was fighting in the UFC, I’m not interested to jump in a fight. I haven’t been 100-percent healthy in a long time, and just really want to concentrate on myself a little bit,” Jardine commented.

The road back to the cage is going to be a long and winding one, but it won’t be something Jardine will jump into blindly. He’s getting back to his roots, traveling around to a few different gyms to see what new tricks he can learn, and most importantly he’s letting his body heal up for maybe the first time since he started fighting in 2001.

“I’m training a lot of different places. I spent some time with Rashad (Evans) down in Florida. I spent some time up at Renzo’s (Gracie) in New York. I’m just really going to take this time to mix it up and when I feel like I’m ready to go give 100-percent, I’m going to go do it,” Jardine said.

“That fight two fights ago when I fought (Gegard) Mousasi, I fought on eight days notice and I was out of shape, but one thing I was confident in was I gave everything I had. I didn’t come away with that feeling in my last fight.”

Does Jardine see a light at the end of the tunnel as far as his fight career goes? That is yet to be determined, but if there’s one thing Keith Jardine can guarantee, it’s when he says yes to his next fight, he will leave everything – his heart, his soul and everything he can give – in the cage.

“If it is my last fight my next fight, I’ll know I gave 100 percent and I gave all of myself,” said Jardine.

“Usually they know whenever they want me I’ll fight, and this is the first time where I want to wait until I’m ready to go out there and put it all on the line.”

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  • I like Jardine. The guy is a gamer and always comes to fight.

  • matty

    “He always came to fight” Yes he always came to fight however he just never fought well. He has never been a top 20 fighter at 205 and he will never be a top 100 fighter at 185. He is way past what little prime he ever had. Time for him to hang up the gloves on a carreer that never was.

    • BlackDog2009

      “little prime”? A legitimate UFC fighter and Strikeforce fighter, with a win over a legend like Chuck Liddell, went toe to toe vs Rampage, knocked out Griffin and stepped in to fight a young lion like Rockhold. What have you done lately keyboard warrior? For what organization do you fight? and please let me know the difference between ‘big prime’ and ‘little prime’.

      Putting a guy down after his prime is easy enough. I was never a Jardine fan, but I respect his accomplishments, guts and determination: That’s prime time to me!

      • lawrensco

        The term “Keyboard Worrier “ is beginning to drive me nuts. Im sure you don`t care at all but I shared it anyway.

      • Lesnardo

        A win over past prime Liddell

        One-sided beating from Rampage

        Griffin was never that good.

        Got destroyed by Rockhold.

        Poor judging against Mousasi and got his face grinded.

        KTFO by virtually every top fighter.

    • RonnieV

      “He has never been a top 20 fighter at 205″…. really? He may not be now, but I sat cageside and watched him knock-out Forrest Griffin in 2006. I also saw him beat Chuck Liddell, a couple fights after Chuck was UFC champ. Give the man some respect, he’s past his prime now, but at his best he was always a contender. For about 2 or 3 years the guy was always ranked Top 10 at 205, and he fought everyone. I’m bummed to see his career slide, but have mad respect for Jardine.

      • Lesnardo

        The dude was NEVER ranked in the top 10 for more than 3 months. What are you talking about? He was ranked in the top 10 for like three months when he beat Chuck and Forrest beat Shogun.

        But he got KTFO by Vanderlei soon after that.

        And yes he did fight every top fighter and got killed by everyone except Liddell (past prime Liddel), Forrest(he was never that good OR it was a fluke) and Mousasi (poor judging).

    • Triggerman99

      He was very likely 1 win away from a title shot after he beat Liddell. What Keith Jardine are you referring to when you say he was never even top 20? Is it the one from the last 2 or 3 fights, the timeframe where you apparently first started watching MMA?

  • All the best to him. He seems to be a great guy.

    • adam1848

      Absolutely. Well put.

  • Mario

    I always wanted bigger things to happen for this man. When he beat Chuck, I thought it was amazing. He looked so good that night!

    Then he started losing too many fights on occasion.

    Ever since he lost to Hamill, I lost hope for him.

    I’m sure he’ll lose his next fight, too! 🙁

  • Lesnardo

    Either the writers for this website are little kids or they are catering to little kids.

    “Why did they call Jardine so often? Because he was a performer and fighter that always showed up, that always gave it his all, and left his heart and soul inside the cage. He was the fighter who always said yes.”

    You ever heard of a journeyman? Jardine always shows up (on short notice as a huge underdog) because (a) he needs the money and (b) he has nothing to lose. That’s what journeyman fighters do.

    This sort of thing happens in boxing as well.

    You can say “Jardine loves to fight that is why he shows up, “Jardine is a warrior,” “Jardine got heart.”

    Well guess what? Jardine wouldn’t have showed up if he weren’t a journeyman but a solid contender with a realistic vision of going for the title. But he clearly doesn’t. And that is why he is just a stepping stone.

    • You’re one bitter and lonely dude.
      Kind of sad.

      • Anthony

        Short Bus, you hit the nail on the head bro

  • Planterz

    Few, if any fighter, at any weight class, have had a tougher path in the UFC than Keith Jardine. Half the guys he fought were former or future champion, and most of the rest were contenders. It’s hard to rank Jardine because of his record, but it’s equally hard to dismiss him because of the men he’s faced and even beaten, or at least held his own against.

    Jardine will never be a champion, or even contender. But win or lose, he gives his all, and should never be discounted. Destined, perhaps, to be a gatekepper, I’ll always root for him, because like Clay Guida, the man is never in a boring fight.

    • BizzleZX10R

      I agree 100%

      I myself always found it funny that he would beat guys you wouldn’t expect him beating and then get beat by guys you’d expect him to beat. Not all the time,but i honestly expected Jardine to beat Bader,Hamill and i totally had Jardine losing to Griffin and Liddell

  • Lesnardo

    u r naive.

    • Triggerman99

      who r u talking 2