Jardine Returns, Holm Debuts on March 4 in New Mexico

By Mike Whitman Jan 15, 2011
Former UFC light heavyweight contender Keith Jardine (Pictured) will return to competition on March 4, as he takes on Maximum Fighting Championship veteran Aron Lofton in a to-be-named event at the Route 66 Casino outside Albuquerque, N.M.

The event -- which will also feature the MMA debut of decorated boxer Holly Holm, as she squares off with Christina Domke -- will be co-promoted by Casino 66 and Fresquez Productions and will go down from the Legends Theater inside the casino. Jardine on Saturday spoke exclusively with Sherdog about his bout and the event.

“It’s a pretty big deal. If you don’t know Holly, she’s pound-for-pound the best boxer in the world and one of the greatest all-time. We’re still in the beginning stages [of planning the event], but I’m hoping to stream at least the two main events online. I’m trying to work that out so everyone can watch,” Jardine told Sherdog. “I don’t know much about [my opponent] yet, but I’ve heard he’s a pretty tough guy. He’s really athletic, and it should be a good fight.”

Jardine, who trains at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, says he is motivated to once again perform in front of a hometown crowd.

“After that Dominican nightmare, coming back and having some freedom to do what I want [is great],” said Jardine. “I just wanted to fight at home and fight in front of all the people who haven’t been able to travel and watch me fight before. That’s really exciting for me.”

The “nightmare” to which Jardine refers was the Nemesis Fighting “MMA Global Invasion” fiasco. “The Dean of Mean,” along with all the other fighters on the card, made their respective ways to the Dominican Republic in December, only to find that they would be performing under distressing conditions. Reports from the event tallied the crowd at less than 100, and fighters were forced to share gloves because there were not enough to go around. Worst of all, the checks distributed to the fighters after the show bounced.

Jardine has taken charge in an attempt to make the situation right for the fighters. The light heavyweight has set up a Web site called PayTheFighters.com through which supporters and fans may purchase merchandise. All proceeds will go to the Nemesis combatants. Currently, Jardine, who has spoken to the Secret Service about the matter, is trying to gain rights to video of the event from the promoters.

“The only thing of value is the video production. All the fights are world-class, incredible fights, and you've got these big names fighting their hearts out in front of nobody in the audience. People have to see this tape,” said Jardine. “The main thing is that it really hurt the mid-level fighters who live from fight to fight and who could have taken other fights but banked on this one. And now they don’t have any money from this fight.”

The 35-year-old is adamant the fighters should receive compensation for their efforts.

“Currently, Nemesis has [the video], and I think they want to show it. There’s no way they can show it without paying the fighters, and I know that’s what they want to do. They just sent a proposal to our lawyer, and we haven’t waded through the proposal yet,” Jardine said. “I’m hopeful, but I doubt it says what we want it to say. If it’s anything other than the fighters getting paid their due first, then I don’t think it’s going to work.”

Jardine was once considered one of the best light heavyweights in the world. With victories over Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell, he was knocking on the door for a title shot. However, four straight losses in the Octagon saw him released from the promotion in June. After dropping a fifth straight fight to fellow UFC veteran Trevor Prangley at Shark Fights 13 in September, Jardine bounced back with his bittersweet victory over Francisco France in the Dominican Republic. Now, the unorthodox light heavyweight has his sights set on a return to the big show.

“My goal is to get back to the top of the UFC. Right now, I’m trying to pick up some wins and get back as soon as I can,” said Jardine. “I felt like, at the Dominican fight, I hit rock bottom. I went from fighting in front of 15,000 people in a main event [for the UFC] to a main event in front of less than 100 people. But now I’m on my way back. I’m going to make it to the top, and it’s going to be a great story when I do.”
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