Don’t Sleep on Jardine.

EDIT: OK, you can sleep on Jardine now. Original post below:

Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold takes on ex-UFC fighter Keith Jardine this Saturday night in Las Vegas. On paper, it seems like an easy fight to predict. Jardine is 2-0-1 in hist last three fights, but the five losses in a row that got him kicked out of the UFC are what everyone remembers. I don’t think there’s a single MMA commentator who is picking Jardine to win.

Look: it’s easy to write that Keith Jardine will get demolished by Luke Rockhold. You can point to Jardine’s last match in Strikeforce and say that while it is undeniable that he showed heart during that bout with Gegard Mousasi, he probably should have lost that fight, not tied it.

Jardine’s been around for quite some time and has certainly taken lots of punishment, and Rockhold presents a great challenge for sure, as Luke’s younger, quicker and seems to possess a more varied attack, but let’s not forget who we’re dealing with here: Keith Jardine’s at a very dangerous place in his career for Rockhold: he doesn’t have the burden of high expectations.

In other words, he’s got little to lose and can afford to throw caution to the wind and really take the fight to Rockhold. And if he can get inside and make it a dirty, nasty, bloody fight, if he can make Rockhold uncomfortable, if he can take Rockhold down, look out!

Now, if Rockhold can stay on the outside and pick Jardine apart, then there’s no question: it’s all over. Rockhold is the champ for a reason. His striking is technical and violent. The dude can fight.

Jardine is making his debut at Middleweight, having fought as a light-heavyweight his whole career. Normally a cut to a smaller weight class for the first time can cause a fighter to underperform, lose power or gas early, but Jardine’s got Mike Dolce helping him prepare, and Mike’s no slouch. You can expect a faster Jardine at Middleweight, and he should retain his power.

For Rockhold, this fight with Jardine could be a trap. He was expected to fight a higher ranked opponent, possibly Tim Kennedy, but when Kennedy got injured his future was uncertain. If he is overlooking “the Dean of Mean” then it will not end well for him. Can you imagine Keith Jardine, Strikeforce Middleweight Champion?

Jardine can.