On June 24, 2010, after suffering his fourth straight loss at the hands of “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (8-2) at The Ultimate Fighter: Team Liddell vs. Team Ortiz Finale, the UFC brass has decided to terminate light heavyweight “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine’s (14-8-1) contract with the promotion. Despite his less than stellar 6-7 record in the promotion, this decision actually comes as a surprise to many fans due to a combination of Jardine’s exciting style and Dana White’s tendency to give the early Ultimate Fighter contestants a certain special protection. This move is, however, the only real option for the UFC at this juncture. Here is a more in depth look at why the UFC had no choice to cut “The Dean of Mean” and how it may actually work in favor of both the UFC and Jardine.
To understand the necessity of this decision, one must first understand the unique nature of Jardine as a fighter and the implications of his UFC fight record. In his career with the promotion, Keith Jardine has proven that he is a threat to even the elite of the UFC light heavyweight division. He has defeated Forrest Griffin (17-6), “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell (21-8), and “The Truth” Brandon Vera (11-5) and has carried “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (28-8) to a decision loss that many felt he would have won had “Rampage” not knocked him down late in the third round. These competitive high profile bouts prove he is a threat to anyone he faces.
Unfortunately for both the UFC and Jardine, he has also suffered several losses that kept him from ever truly being a contender himself. A 48 second thrashing from UFC washout “The Assassin” Houston Alexander (10-6) undid everything the KO victory over Forrest Griffin achieved. His hard fought win over long time UFC champ Chuck Liddell was undone by a 36 second knock out courtesy of “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva (34-10-1). Finally his win over Brandon Vera, arguably his only unexciting fight, was followed by a series of failures including the aforementioned loss to “Rampage”, yet another first round obliteration by “Pit-bull” Thiago Silva (15-2), a thrashing from up and comer “Darth” Ryan Bader (11-0), and finally the three round beating he took from “The Hammer.”
This turn of events has left “The Dean” in a very unique position. He is now lose-lose for the UFC. He can’t face the elite because he hasn’t earned it and his four fight losing streak makes a win against him meaningless even for those light heavyweight prospects that are just a few wins away from contention. For example: if Jardine fought a prospect at the threshold of the upper echelon like “Bones” Jon Jones (10-1) and lost, it wouldn’t further Jones’ career at all beating a man on a four fight losing streak. Even worse, if Jardine won, a VERY real possibility, the UFC would lose a strong up and coming contender they spent almost two years building. Even as a gatekeeper, Jardine is simply too dangerous to remain in the UFC as his ability to fight at an elite level would make him a kryptonite to any new talent the UFC tried to introduce to the division.
Jardine’s unique situation has bred a perfect storm of death blows to his current stint in the UFC. Outside the UFC, he can do great good for the promotion by going to Strikeforce where his skill set combined with their pitifully shallow light heavyweight division would make him a force to be reckoned with. This would inevitably make him viable in the UFC again and have the added bonus of showcasing the UFC superiority over Strikeforce. Inside the UFC, he can only cost the UFC several young prospects. It is far better for the UFC to let Jardine rebuild his credibility at the expense of rival promotions only to bring him back than to allow him to potentially ruin the credibility of several of their own blue chip prospects.