Keith Jardine (left): Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com
Keith Jardine desperately needed a break at Saturday’s Shark Fights event in Amarillo -- some way of slowing what’s been a rapid descent into mediocrity.
He didn’t get it: Trevor Prangley put in two strong rounds to Jardine’s late surge in the third and got the decision. It was Jardine’s fifth loss in as many fights in a sport that can forget about you after only one.
The result isn’t surprising. Jardine’s four years in the UFC were schizophrenic, with the fighter alternating high-profile wins (Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell) with losses beneath his pay grade (Houston Alexander). The skid that cost him his primetime slot came against a series of tough guys who simply operate on a different level: Ryan Bader, Quinton Jackson, Thiago Silva. In matchmaking terms, he got fed to the wood chipper.
When manager Monte Cox was faced with an increasingly disinterested Matt Hughes in 2001 -- Hughes had dropped consecutive fights to Dennis Hallman and Pele -- he acknowledged that the best thing for his fighter was to drag him out of deep water and let him soak his feet somewhere else. He booked Hughes for seven fights that year alone, all against competition that had little chance to upset him.
The point? Hughes, whose confidence was obviously at low ebb by that point, swaggered into a UFC title fight with Carlos Newton with the ego of a man who had just beat seven others to pulp. He slammed Newton unconscious and went on to become one of the UFC’s most dominant champions. Had he fought immediately after losing by KO to Pele, the ring psychology would not have been in his favor. His whole career could have been radically different.
In the UFC, fighters really have no choice but to run the gauntlet: you fight killers practically every time out. But if you have the misfortune of being bounced from the promotion, you now have the luxury of booking bouts to your advantage. Did Jardine, owner of four losses, really need someone as determined as Prangley for a comeback bid?
The reality is that the UFC’s policy on re-hiring fighters is sometimes generous. Wins against mediocre opposition can count; close decision losses do not.
Jardine may be game enough to fight the Prangleys of the world, but if his goal is to get back in the Octagon, he’s not doing himself any favors. This is one time where it pays to be a little selfish. If I’m Jardine’s management, I’m wondering what Hector Ramirez is up to.